THE IMAGE OF CHRIST

Copyright

 

THE IMAGE OF CHRIST Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Each member of the elect has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, who is the image of God. It is difficult to grasp how marvelous such a calling is.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is so exalted as to be incomprehensible to us. Although He always will be our Lord, we have been selected to be made in His inward and outward image to a greater extent than we may have realized.

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Outward Image of Christ

   The consuming fire    The four living creatures    Straight ahead in God’s will    The four faces    Keeping to his course    The lack of inertia    Fireproof    The wheel in the wheel    Flowing in God’s will    The Man on the highest throne

The Inward Image of Christ

   The Wife of the Lamb    Measuring the temple    The wall    Looking toward the east    A continual warfare    The way to God    The stone tables    Called to be priests    The Temple of God    Holiness unto the Lord    More room at the top    Established on a foundation    The beauty of holiness    The table    The cloud of witnesses    The throne of God    The sin in our personality    God’s commandments and instructions    The altar    Powerful communication    The dawning of the Day of the Lord    Reserved for Jesus alone    God rewards those who serve Him    The rest of God    The unclean and the clean      Our experience as coheirs with Jesus Christ    Honesty    The water of life    The north gate    Growing in the Spirit    Back to the place of service    Healing the dead sea of mankind    The greatest of all revivals    The swamps and marshes    The gates of the city    The Lord is there

Conclusion

THE IMAGE OF CHRIST

Introduction

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth,~ and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (Genesis 1:26)

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)

God does not predestine people to be saved. All are welcome to repent and put their trust in the Lord Jesus. But when we are referring to the members of the royal priesthood, God’s Israel, the Scripture is clear that such a position of holiness, of closeness to God, is a matter of election.

To what have we been called? Not just to be saved from wrath but to be changed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without doubt there is no higher calling in the universe.

To be conformed means to be changed. Change is always difficult, always painful for us. But to what better use could we put our few days on the earth than that of cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He does away with our adamic nature and forms Christ in us?

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)

We are assured by the Scripture that if we do the Lord’s will we shall be like the Lord Jesus when He returns. Our transformation into His likeness will be true both inwardly and outwardly.

The inner Nature of the Lord always reveals the fruit of the Spirit of God, with whom He is filled at all times.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23)

Experienced Christians know years of following the Spirit are necessary before we begin to show much of the fruit of the Spirit; for such a personality indeed is the fruit of the Spirit and not of the Christian.

And then there is the courage of Christ, and His total obedience to the Father. The Lord always possess tremendous wisdom and knowledge, and is a worker of miracles. These also are the image of Christ.

If we are to be in the image of Christ inwardly we must be very faithful, very diligent in our Christian walk. The gifts and ministries of the Spirit must labor until Christ is formed in us.

Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (I John 2:6)

In this way, love is made complete among us so we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. (I John 4:17)

Then there is the outward appearance.

And among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man,"~ dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (Revelation 1:13-16)

Apparently our outward form will be similar to the above. Of course, the form portrayed above is a symbolic appearing.

Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:21)

The robe reaching down to His feet speaks of His priestly role. The golden sash portrays the strength of God that upholds Him.

His head and hair white like wool remind us of the wisdom and glory that come with age.

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life. (Proverbs 16:31)

The blazing fire of His eyes means He sees through all that is not sincere. When there no longer is guile in us, we too will be able to see through the artfulness of those who would deceive.

His feet of bronze portray the fact that judgment follows wherever He places His feet. This too is true of us. Once we have been judged ourselves, then wherever we go, Divine judgment will be exercised.

The sound of rushing waters speaks of the power of His Word. Christians today seek power. This is not the true goal. The true goal is to be in the image of the Lord. Then we shall possess all the authority and power we need while we are doing the Lord’s will.

The sharp double-edged sword coming from His mouth is the Word of God. This is what Christ speaks. This is what we are to speak.

His face shining like the sun tells of the perfect righteousness of Christ and of those who are in His image.

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:43)

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. (Revelation 10:1)

However, we do not hold the angels in our hand. That is not Christ’s image but His administrative authority.

Around the throne of God are four living creatures.

Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, (Revelation 4:6-9)

To gain the promises of God to the overcomers we must have the face of a lion.

To please God we must be willing to bear burdens, as the ox.

To be able to be one with God and other people, to know love, we must have the face of a man.

To live in resurrection life, being freed from the bondages of the flesh and the earth, we must be as the flying eagle.

We always are to be full of eyes so we are never blind to what God is doing, so we can see that the whole earth is filled with the glory of the holy Lord God Almighty. Satan would have us gaze at his evil works and fret ourselves, thus becoming bitter. When we are covered with eyes we perceive the things that happen to us as being for our good. Even though God often uses Satan to chip away at us, God’s purpose is that we continually be changed into the image of the glory of the Lord.

The Scripture is clear that as we grow in righteous behavior we gain spiritual sight.

He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil—this is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him. Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar. (Isaiah 33:15-17)

But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. (II Peter 1:9)

If I am not mistaken, there is a good deal of spiritual blindness in the churches in America. This is because our doctrine tells us that righteous behavior is not the authentic proof of salvation. We have substituted a mental belief in Jesus Christ in place of godly living. Can you imagine this?

Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. (Isaiah 6:2)

Six is the number of man. Two of the six wings cover our face, revealing our willingness to show forth Christ and not ourselves.

Two of the six wings cover our feet, symbolizing that we do not go our own way in our own strength, but go the Lord’s way in His strength.

Two of the six wings enable us to travel as ambassadors of Christ, doing the Lord’s will at all times.

Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

What a magnificent goal! Maturity as measured by the fullness of Christ! Let us never stagger at the promise of God but press forth every day in faith that what God has stated God indeed shall perform, and we will be more than conquerors through the wisdom and strength of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Outward Image of Christ

The likeness of God, that to which man has been called, is portrayed in the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel. This chapter describes the outward image, the likeness of God. The inward image of God is symbolized by the Temple of God of the Book of Ezekiel, which we will examine a little later. Finally, in the forty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel, we notice the use to which those who have been changed into the outward and inward image of Christ are put.

The human tendency would be to say the vision given to Ezekiel is so far, far, far beyond anything to which man has been called that we are being ridiculous.

However, we may not be adequately considering the Scriptures. According to the Scriptures, man is to sit in the highest throne with the Lord Jesus Christ. Man is to be the judge of men and angels, the executors of judgment on the nations, the brothers of Jesus Christ, the Bride of the Lamb, the Body of the Christ, of the Servant of the Lord.

He is to have Christ formed in him and be the eternal dwelling place of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is a son of God in every sense of the word and shall inherit the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. He is to govern all the works of God’s hands. He is to be a coheir with the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a king and priest of God. He has the authority, under the Lord Jesus Christ, to bind and to loose, to remit and retain sins. All these are scriptural statements concerning man.

Now, given these scriptural descriptions of man, and considering the greatness of Almighty God, and thinking about what it means to be in the image of Christ, to be the Bride of the Lamb, to be the brother of Christ, to be the judge of mankind and angels, to be a son of God, and all of this having billions of years to come to maturity, perhaps we are not too far from the mark when we suggest the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel is describing the Lord Jesus Christ and also those who are to be fashioned in His likeness.

The consuming fire.

I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, (Ezekiel 1:4)

The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Isaiah 33:14)

As soon as we begin to examine the likeness of Christ we notice He always dwells in the center of the fire of God’s Person.

The four living creatures.

And in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, (Ezekiel 1:5)

"Their form was that of a man." The Cherubim of Glory look like a man!

But each of them had four faces and four wings. (Ezekiel 1:6)

It is interesting that the four cherubim described here have four wings, while the cherubim around the Throne of God have six wings.

A possible answer is that Christ became a Man and now is on the Throne of God in Heaven; therefore the six wings, the number six symbolizing man. However, the four cherubim in the first chapter of Ezekiel have four wings, four speaking of the fact that these cherubim communicate the Presence of God, four being the number of communication.

Straight ahead in God’s will.

And their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. (Ezekiel 1:9)

This is one aspect of the image of God. We are to go straight ahead in His will, not being double-minded; not varying one inch from the course that the Lord has set for us.

We see this feature of single-mindedness in the second chapter of Joel, where the saints of the army of the Lord are described:

They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. (Joel 2:7)

It is a mark of maturity when we do not swerve from our course, when we go straight ahead performing the Lord’s will.

The Christian discipleship is largely a matter of will. However, we are not able to change ourselves into the image or likeness of the Lord no matter how much we exercise our will. Rather, our part is to make up our mind that we desire to be transformed, and then the Lord will transform us. But if we keep changing our mind because of the stretching we must endure, then the program of redemption cannot operate.

That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. (James 1:7,8)

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)

And then we come to the same four faces we notice in the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelation: the living creatures surrounding the Throne of God.

The four faces.

Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:10)

The face of a man portrays the fact that the image of Christ includes the ability to love and enjoy relationships. In addition, man is able to make righteous moral judgments just as God does, for relationships require moral judgments. This ability may not be true of the other creatures of God.

The face of a lion tells us that the image of Christ includes the fierceness of a conquering warrior, the determined might of a ruler.

The face of an ox speaks of God’s willingness to work, to bear heavy burdens.

The face of an eagle reminds us that Christ soars through the heavens. His enemies are unable to keep him bowed down with trouble, worry, or confusion.

God wants to perfect such an image in each of us.

Keeping to his course.

Each one kept to his course. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. (Ezekiel 1:12)

Again, the emphasis on proceeding straight ahead without turning. Whenever something of this kind is repeated it is because an emphasis is being placed on the concept by the Holy Spirit.

The lack of inertia.

The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. (Ezekiel 1:14)

The speeding back and forth reveals the lack of inertia. Inertia has to do with the tendency of something at rest to remain at rest, or once in motion to remain in motion at the same speed and in the same direction without changing.

To change the speed and direction of an object requires force—the force needed to overcome inertia.

The adamic nature is filled with inertia. It does not like to speed back and forth like a flash of lightning. When it is still it wants to remain still. "Do not bother me!"

Once it gets going it wants to stay at the same speed and in the same direction. Religious works and organizations are like this. They are begun by the Lord and then they travel forever at the same speed and in the same direction. When the Spirit of God changes His emphasis He must use a new group. Then the former religious group cries out: "This is of the devil!"

Such is true of the adamic nature, of religion.

But those in whom Christ is being formed are rapidly losing their unwillingness to change. They can run and return quickly, as they follow the Lord. They are not foolish, changeable people who cannot be depended on to finish what they have started, to carry out a responsibility. But neither are they frozen in place so nothing the Holy Spirit does can possibly affect them.

To be in the image of God we must lose our adamic inertia and be ready to move when the Lord moves. This is necessary if we are to be in the image of Christ.

Fireproof.

This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. (Ezekiel 1:16)

The wheels sparkle like chrysolite, speaking of the fire and life of the saint who is living in the Spirit of God.

Chrysolite, another name for olivine, is a mineral used in structural materials such as cement. It has a high melting point. Each person who would be one of the Lord’s chariots must have a high melting point. Our calling as saints is to dwell for eternity in the center of the Consuming Fire of Israel.

In the Gospel of John, the Lord Jesus told of His desire that we be with Him where He is. Where Jesus is, is in the very center of the Person of the Consuming Fire.

The Lord wishes to draw us each day closer toward the place where He dwells eternally. However, our Adamic nature is as wood and cannot stand the Divine Fire. But the gold of the Divine Nature that is being formed in us becomes increasingly pure as it enters the Fire who is God.

Jesus Christ at present is at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. According to the Scripture, we are there in Him and with Him.

The Lord Jesus Christ also is on the earth with us. To this extent, He and we are experiencing the power of multiple presence. We are in Heaven and on the earth simultaneously.

As soon as we are raised from the dead at His appearing, receiving immortality in the body, our ability to abide in the center of God’s fire and at the same time be at other places in the creation will be greatly enhanced. We shall be able to bring the Presence of God wherever the Spirit of God perceives a need.

We understand then that we need to have a high melting point, because we will be abiding in the Consuming Fire for eternity.

Evidently what we are seeing in the above passage is a four-wheeled carriage, or chariot in which God rides. The truth, as I see it, is that every person called to be in the image of Christ is a chariot of God, a living vehicle through which the Lord God can minister to His creatures. In fact, the main purpose of God is to build such a living temple in which He can find rest. The Lord Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone and we are living stones in the eternal structure. This is nothing less than Emmanuel, the place of God’s Presence in His creation.

All the ministries of the Body of Christ are for the purpose of bringing the house of God to maturity.

Notice the great number of the chariots of God.

The mountains of Bashan are majestic mountains; rugged are the mountains of Bashan. Why gaze in envy, O rugged mountains, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the LORD himself will dwell forever? The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary. When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious—that you, O Lord God, "might dwell there." (Psalms 68:15-18)

The purpose of the gifts is that God might dwell there.

And then the New Testament application:

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."~ (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, To prepare God’s people for works of service, so the body of Christ may be built up Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:7-13)

And notice the description of the "one new Man":

By abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, (Ephesians 2:15)

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22)

The wheel in the wheel.

This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. (Ezekiel 1:16)

Think about the "wheel intersecting a wheel."

If we picture a small circle within a larger circle within in a larger circle which is within a larger circle which is yet within in a still larger circle we have a diagram of a chariot of God. God is in Christ who is in us who are in Christ who is in God.

The above verse is a description of life lived in the Spirit of God. Every Christian is to live in the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is our law, who has replaced the Law of Moses.

Everything depends on our being filled with the Spirit and being led by the Spirit. The Spirit empowers and directs us to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of Christ. The Spirit also enables us to put to death the deeds of our mortal body and to live in resurrection life.

The Spirit writes the eternal moral law of God in our mind and heart. The Spirit comforts and strengthens us so we can do the will of Christ.

The Spirit is our tutor who brings us to the school of Christ. The reason Christians find keeping Christ’s commandments so difficult is they are not filled with the Spirit and being guided by the Spirit. They live so much in the flesh they do not know how to live in the Spirit of God.

The truth is, only those who are filled with the Spirit and living in the Spirit will be resurrected into eternal life at the coming of the Lord. The evidence that we are filled with the Spirit and living in the Spirit is not that we speak in tongues and prophesy, it is that the character of Jesus is being seen in us; we are being changed into the image of Christ.

Flowing in God’s will.

When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. (Ezekiel 1:21)

When the Spirit of God is dwelling in us we will be able to flow with God, and not resist His Spirit by our stubbornness and rebellion.

The Man on the highest throne.

Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire,~ and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezekiel 1:25-28)

"This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord." The marvel of all marvels is that on the highest throne of the universe is a Man, the Man who at one time lived among us. He is above all cherubim, seraphim, angels, and all other creatures of God.

We have been predestined to be changed into His likeness.

He has invited us to sit with Him in His throne.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. (Isaiah 37:16)

Such is the outward appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been called to be in His likeness and to sit with Him in His throne. This is our great salvation and we are not to neglect it but to labor to enter into God’s rest and our rest in God.

One may be wondering at this point: Are the four living creatures the image and likeness of God into which we are being changed, or is the "figure like that of a man," seated "high above on the throne," the image and likeness of God into which we are being changed?

I would suggest both are the image and likeness of God to which we are being conformed. First of all, we eternally will be in and with Christ on the highest throne of the creation. We never will leave this position.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6,7)

Second, we along with Christ and as part of Christ, part of the living Temple of God, the Servant of the Lord, shall travel throughout the universe, bringing the Presence of God to the nations of saved people on the earth.

The number "four," as employed in the first chapter of Ezekiel, is referring to the ability of God to communicate. For example, the sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day; the Lampstand was the fourth furnishing of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; Pentecost is the fourth of the seven feasts of the Lord.

So both are the image and likeness of the Lord. The Man on the sapphire throne speaks of Christ and those who are an integral part of Christ stationed forever on the highest throne of the universe.

The four-wheeled chariot portrays the fact that, although we are seated forever at the right hand of God, we shall bring the Presence of Christ, and God in Him, wherever there is a need.

The Inward Image of Christ

The Wife of the Lamb.

In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city. (Ezekiel 40:2)

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:9,10)

Apparently Ezekiel saw the new Jerusalem in a vision.

Since we know the new Jerusalem is the glorified Church of Christ (what else could it be, since it is announced as the Lamb’s Wife?), then Ezekiel is describing the Church of Christ.

And since the Church of Christ is composed of individual saints, and is only as holy and perfect as the least holy and perfect member, then we must consider the possibility that the description of the temple in the Book of Ezekiel is referring to the inward image of the saints. The new Jerusalem is the fulfillment of Paul’s words concerning our coming to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the stature of the fullness of Christ.

"But," one may ask, "how about all the physical details—especially the directions concerning animal sacrifice?"

We know God will never bless animal sacrifices after His Son, Jesus Christ, has been offered on the cross as a blood atonement. We conclude, therefore, that God is giving a spiritual vision but is using terms that could be understood by the Israelites of Ezekiel’s day.

So we study the vision to see what spiritual applications there are—and there are many!

Measuring the temple.

He took me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand. (Ezekiel 40:3)

Whenever we see a measuring rod, in a symbolic portrayal, such as Ezekiel’s vision or the Book of Revelation, the meaning has to do with Divine judgment. God is examining the object to see if it meets His specifications.

In the above verse the angel in the appearance of a man is ready to set the standards for the work of God in each of the living stones, in each member of God’s elect.

The wall.

I saw a wall completely surrounding the temple area. The length of the measuring rod in the man’s hand was six long cubits, each of which was a cubit and a handbreadth. He measured the wall; it was one measuring rod thick and one rod high. (Ezekiel 40:5)

We notice also in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation that the wall surrounding the holy city is emphasized.

Sin was able to enter the Garden of Eden readily because there was no wall. Adam and Eve were not able to distinguish between good and evil, or to embrace the good and reject the evil.

Growth in Christ means we have grown in the ability to distinguish between good and evil, and in the willingness and strength to utterly receive the good and utterly reject the evil. Because Christ loves righteousness and hates wickedness, God has anointed Christ with the oil of joy above His companions.

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions of joy. (Psalms 45:7) Growth in Christ means a wall has been constructed in our inward personality. The wall against sin is one of the most prominent features of the inward image of Christ.

It appears it is just now that the Christian churches, especially the Christian churches, are becoming aware of the difference between good and evil. Grace has been overemphasized to such an incredible extent that it seems the Christians are the only people in the world who do not understand what righteous behavior is. They are dreadfully confused on this point.

Now, however, the Spirit of God is teaching us the difference between good and evil and is strengthening us so we will receive the good of Christ and vigorously confess, denounce, and renounce every work of Satan that approaches our personality.

The wall is being constructed in the inward nature of each son of God, just as it exists in the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s sons will make certain sin never again comes near the Throne of God.

Looking toward the east.

Then he went to the gate facing east. He climbed its steps and measured the threshold of the gate; it was one rod deep.~ (Ezekiel 40:6)

The Kingdom of God always looks toward the east, toward the Day of the Lord. The Gospel of the Kingdom, while it provides help for our daily life, always is looking for Christ to return to the earth with His saints to establish His Kingdom on the earth.

In the Christian literature of today there is considerable emphasis on how to have a good marriage, earn money, be healthy, avoid depression, forgive people, and so forth. Such instruction can be helpful at times.

We must never forget, however, that the Gospel of the Kingdom refers to the coming of the rule of God to the earth. Even if in the days to come we Christians in America are persecuted savagely, we have the hope of the Lord returning to destroy the power and presence of Satan.

The teaching of an any-moment "rapture" that will lift us up to Heaven is unscriptural. It is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, not the flight of the saints to Heaven, that is the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you And give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (II Thessalonians 1:6,7)

A continual warfare.

The alcoves for the guards were one rod long and one rod wide, and the projecting walls between the alcoves were five cubits thick. And the threshold of the gate next to the portico facing the temple was one rod deep. (Ezekiel 40:7)

The reference to the "guards" remind us that we are in a continual warfare. I don’t think people take seriously enough the fact that we are in a warfare against ancient, experienced evil powers in the heavens.

While there currently is some talk in the Charismatic churches about spiritual warfare, it appears to be on too light a level to come to grips with what actually is taking place in the spirit realm.

Put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:11,12)

How can we guard against deception? Only by taking up our cross and following Jesus. The reason deception is so widespread in the Christian churches in America is that the people are not being taught to take up their personal cross and follow Jesus. They are not disciples. They merely are churchgoers and as such are not able to resist the cunning attacks of Satan.

There are a few disciples in America, but not many it appears. The majority of believers appear to be spiritual babies. They are useless for the Kingdom purposes of God. They are as vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy as the United States itself will be to the attacks of hostile countries, if it does not turn from its sinful ways.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (I Peter 5:8,9)

We always must post a guard, whether we are in church, on vacation, at a party, or retired. If we do not keep alert and self-controlled it will not be long before we say or do something foolish or sinful. We always are to keep aware of the Presence of Christ in all that we think, say, and do.

We have let our guard down both in the churches and in the nation. God no longer will help us against the enemy because we are not keeping His commandments.

The way to God.

Then he measured the portico of the gateway; (Ezekiel 40:8)

A portico is a covered walkway that leads to the entrance of a building. Every one of us is to be so converted in our inward nature that people can come to Christ through us.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)

Notice, in the following passage, that we can comfort people with God’s Presence as we ourselves are comforted with God’s Presence.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (II Corinthians 1:3,4)

So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (II Corinthians 4:12)

Isn’t it a fact that we are the only Bible some people will ever have an opportunity to read?

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (II Corinthians 3:2,3)

As we serve the Lord patiently we are strengthened to the point that we can lift up those who are mourning.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. (Psalms 84:5-7)

The Valley of Baca is a place of weeping. The saints of the Lord go through sorrow after sorrow; but because they trust in the Lord, the sorrow is turned into springs of water for those who are thirsty.

We are to serve as the Presence of God through Christ to the peoples whom God has created. We cannot help or feed people spiritually with our adamic nature. It is corrupt.

God has called us to give Christ to people. He is the only Bread of Life. After we have partaken of the Bread of Life, and the Bread of Life begins to be formed in us, then we can give the Bread of Life to others.

The more the image of Christ is formed in our inward nature, the more we are able to bring to other people that which will strengthen them in God.

So often we wish to bring people to Christ. This is a good thing. It also is desirable to bring Christ to people. This we can do only as we are transformed in our inward nature. As we are brought down to death, then the Presence of Christ lifts us up and the abundance of incorruptible resurrection life flows over to others and makes them alive.

We continually are dying that others may live. All that is of eternal Kingdom significance comes from the cross, not from the good intentions or enthusiasms of religious people. Religious and other decent people can help with the various problems of daily life. But the image of Christ is formed in individuals only as the Virtue of Christ comes forth in us.

The stone tables.

There were also four tables of dressed stone for the burnt offerings, each a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a half wide and a cubit high. On them were placed the utensils for slaughtering the burnt offerings and the other sacrifices. (Ezekiel 40:42)

Only those who have spent years in the Lord’s prisons will understand the meaning of the four tables of dressed stone for the burnt offering.

The burnt offering was a consecration offering, not a sin offering. It has to do with presenting our body a living sacrifice.

When we patiently remain in the prison where the Lord places us there is formed deep in our soul a hardness. It is in this depth of granite that the rod of iron obedience and discipline is found. After this transformation is accomplished we are not moved easily. Gone are our fleshly enthusiasms, including our religious enthusiasms. In their place are stone, iron, and fire.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (II Timothy 2:3)

We are dead but we are alive; but it is Christ who is alive in place of our old nature. And it is this new eternal life that we then can share with others.

Called to be priests.

He said to me, "The room facing south is for the priests who have charge of the temple, And the room facing north is for the priests who have charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who are the only Levites who may draw near to the LORD to minister before him." (Ezekiel 40:45,46)

Notice above the separation of the priesthood. The room facing south is for the priests who have charge of the temple, the house of God. Sometimes south symbolizes that which is warm and pleasant.

But when we come to the priests, the sons of Zadok, who have charge of the altar, we find "the room facing north." Perhaps this is speaking of those who are willing to endure hardship for Jesus Christ.

We see this today. Many of the Lord’s people are soft of spirit. They are not willing to have the Lord bring them through the fires that create iron in the inward nature. However, it is these of iron who are permitted to come further into the holy Presence of God.

We will have more to say later about the reason why the sons of Zadok were singled out for unusually holy service.

Every member of God’s elect is called to be a priest.

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6)

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

But whom are we to serve as priests? Certainly not other members of the Body of Christ, for only Christ is our Priest.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (I Timothy 2:5)

But you are not to be called "Rabbi," for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth "father," for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called "‘teacher," for you have one Teacher, the Christ.~ (Matthew 23:8-10)

Rather, we are to serve the members of the nations of saved people. We are to bring Christ to them. This always is the role of Israel.

You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites. (Exodus 19:6)

I find that Christian people have a difficult time understanding who the members of the saved nations are. The members of the saved nations are the Lord’s sheep; but they are not part of the Church, the called-out holy nation. Until we grasp the concept of the saved nations, numerous passages of the Scriptures are difficult to understand.

We Christians often state we are called to rule with Christ. However, we do not often give thought whom we are to rule. Certainly we are not going to govern the lost, we are to govern the saved.

If we are members of a governing priesthood, it is obvious we are not going to govern and serve as priests for other member of the Body of Christ. It must be that God is going to bring multitudes of people into eternal life, into the new earth, who are saved from destruction but not part of the Church.

Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34)

The "sheep" on the Lord’s right are not members of the Church. They compose the nations of saved people whom the Church will serve as kings and priests.

The new Jerusalem, the holy city, is the Lamb’s Wife, the glorified Christian Church.

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:9,10)

Then we see that the nations of the earth will bring their treasures to it, that is, to the Church.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21:24-26)

The vision of the future is that of a glorified Christian Church, the eternal House of God, located forever on a high mountain of the new earth. The nations of saved people come to it bringing their treasure, in order to worship God and receive the blessing of God.

Until it is clearly understood that the Church consists of people chosen from the foundation of the world to belong especially to God; that their lifetime on earth is a training period to prepare them for their eternal ministry as members of the royal priesthood; and that they will inherit saved people as well as the farthest reaches of the earth; it  utterly is impossible to comprehend the nature, role, or destiny of the Kingdom of God.

The Temple of God.

He brought me to the portico of the temple and measured the jambs of the portico; they were five cubits wide on either side. The width of the entrance was fourteen cubits and its projecting walls were three cubits wide on either side. (Ezekiel 40:48)

Ezekiel is describing a temple not in existence at the time of his prophecy. We mentioned previously that his vision has to do with the new Jerusalem, the holy city, the glorified Christian Church. Each member is to contain in his inward nature all of the features of the city. This is why the name of the city is written on him.

We American Christians are so self-centered that we can think only of how God is benefiting us. It has not dawned on many of us that the entire plan of redemption is for God’s benefit, and also for the benefit of the saved of mankind.

Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34)

The Kingdom of God has been prepared for the saved people of the nations. The Church is that kingdom.

Some of God's angels rebelled against him. God's solution has been to create a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and to dwell in each member. In the saints, the holy ones, the God of Heaven will find rest. The Church has been created to be the very throne of almighty God.

Our purpose in life is to become a dwelling place for God.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22)

The entire holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:3)

And then we find something unusual: there is no temple in the tabernacle of God.

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (Revelation 21;22)

In the Greek language, "dwelling" and "temple" are two different words.

And notice below:

Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)

The Temple within the new Jerusalem is God and the Lamb. He who overcomes will be a pillar in that Temple.

It may be true that those who live in victory in the present evil world will have the incredible honor of being an integral part of the Temple which is God and the Lamb. If this is true, the overcomers would be located in a holier area than is true of the remainder of the Church.

Although we may recoil at the idea of the Church being divided into a holy and a most holy place, the pattern of the Tabernacle of the Congregation suggests this may be the case.

And in addition we have:

The separation of the Ark of the Covenant from the remainder of the Tabernacle, during the reign of David.

Gideon’s army and the remainder of Israel.

The three on the Mount of Transfiguration and then the remainder of the disciples.

The thirty, sixty, and one hundred bearing of Christ in the parable of the sower.

The firstfruits of the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The Zadok branch of the Levites and the remainder of the Levites.

I do not believe the Holy Spirit has presented these several examples in order to put in us a desire to be a superior spiritual being or to lord it over our fellow Christians. Rather, the fact that the victorious saints will forever be pillars in the eternal Temple of God should motivate us to press forward to this exceedingly high calling—not because we desire to be preeminent but in order to show our faith in God, our faith that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently.

The description of Ezekiel’s temple appears to leave little doubt that it is a symbolic portrayal of the Church, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, and therefore a representation of what must be true of the inward nature of each living stone in that eternal structure.

Holiness unto the Lord.

And he measured the length of the inner sanctuary; it was twenty cubits, and its width was twenty cubits across the end of the outer sanctuary. He said to me, "This is the most holy place." (Ezekiel 41:4)

God desires to create a most holy place in each of His saints. The pattern of the Tabernacle of the Congregation portrays the way the new heaven and earth will be arranged, and also the way our inward nature is arranged.

There must be created in us a most holy place where God and Christ dwell; and then a less holy place where our religious service takes place; and finally a "courtyard" where we minister to people.

There are numerous Christian people who are proficient in religious service and who minister to the people of the world. But there is no most holy place in them. They know all the ways and furnishings of the house of God, but they do not know the God of the house of God.

Sometimes God will come to Christian people of many years of experience and wage war against them, as it were. God attacks those elements of their personality that do not please Him, and yet did not hinder their Christian life in time past.

The believer becomes desperate, being certain God has left him or her. This is not the case. God does not abandon people who are living for Him as well as they know how to do.

It indeed is a fiery trial. There may be long periods of suffering—often intense suffering in one form or another.

If the believer stays before God, even though faith and confidence have sunk to a very low level, the hour will come when the Job-like trial will be complete. He has walked with Christ in the fire. If the person keeps hold of God, the smoke of bitterness will not come from his or her personality. Only the bondages will be burned away.

However, something else has occurred. There now is a knowledge and Presence of God that was not there previously. A most holy place has been created at the core of the personality.

There is a difference between righteousness and holiness. Righteousness has to do with our behavior toward other people. Holiness has to do with our behavior toward God.

God requires that all people who live in His new world be righteous, that is, that they demonstrate integrity, faithfulness, kindness, and love toward one another.

The members of the Christian Church, the saints, have been called out of the mass of mankind to be holy unto the Lord, that is, to be closer to God’s Person than is true of other people. For this reason the saints cannot compare their thoughts, words, and actions with the thoughts, words, and actions of people who have not been called to be part of the Church.

"Therefore come out from them and be separate," says the Lord. "Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty. Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 6:17-7:1)

It is required of all Christians that we purify ourselves by reading the Word and praying. As we study the Word and pray we begin to be aware of what is spiritually clean and what is not. When we discover we are practicing uncleanness we are to confess the unclean behavior as sin and denounce and renounce it as evil. As we do this the power of Christ cleanses us from all that is unclean in God’s sight.

Without holiness no person ever will see the Lord. Only the pure in heart see God.

Modesty of dress and the avoidance of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol are beginning steps we can take toward holiness. We must abhor profanity, adultery, fornication, and perverse sexual practices. These are basic requirements for all who have been called to be saints.

After the basic requirements have been met, our calling in the Kingdom will determine the intensity of our passion for holiness. It is good for every Christian to pray that God will give him or her a passion for holiness, a fervent desire that he or she may always be with the Lord Jesus where He is, that is, in the very center of the holy Fire we call God.

This is the law of the temple: All the surrounding area on top of the mountain will be most holy. Such is the law of the temple. (Ezekiel 43:12)

Today, holiness is the theme of the hour. The term "saint," which Paul applies to believers, means holy one.

To be holy is to be drawn close to God for His special purposes. Many Christians have rebelled against the earlier concepts of holiness that consisted of religious regulations of various kinds, such as special kinds of dress for women, not eating pork, or not taking aspirin, none of which has a bearing on the forming of the image of Christ. But it appears now the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

Now Christians go to X-rated movies, filling their minds with moral filth. Christians smoke cigarettes (injuring the temple of the Holy Spirit), include profanity in their speech (the language of demons), and drink alcohol (a substitute for the Holy Spirit). These actions are not holy and God will not accept them in the lives of His elect.

Notice the following exhortation:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.~ You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)

Presently the Holy Spirit is digging deeper, into such conduct as bitterness, hatred, jealousy, unforgiveness, lying, stealing, envy, spite, personal ambition, seeking preeminence, insisting that our will is performed—even when it hurts other people. These actions are not holy and God will not accept them in the personalities of His elect.

If you want to know what actions are holy and what are not, picture yourself standing near God’s throne in Heaven. If what you are doing seems inappropriate, then it probably is. If you can’t picture the Lord Jesus doing it, it probably is wrong.

We are being made in His image. Whatever He would not do, we are not to do because it is not holy.

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)

Whoever teaches that we can behave in an unholy manner and still have fellowship with God on the basis of mercy and grace is a false prophet, a deceived teacher. Keep away from him. He will lead you to destruction.

The New Testament emphasizes holiness.

To rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear In holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:74,75)

I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. (Romans 6:19)

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22)

It seems from the above verse that eternal life is the result of being set free from sin and becoming a slave to God. Slavery to righteousness and to God leads to holiness. The result of righteousness and holiness is eternal life. Think of it!

Don’t you know you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (I Corinthians 3:16,17)

Our body is God’s temple. When our body has been raised from the dead it will be a living stone in God's eternal temple.

Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (I Corinthians 6:19,20)

If we treat our body as a holy vessel, the eternal temple of the Holy Spirit, then, when the Lord appears, our body will be made like the body of the Lord Jesus and we will be the expression of God’s throne throughout His creation.

But if we defile our body with unclean speech and practices, then, when the Lord appears and our body is raised from the dead, the uncleanness we have practiced will be revealed in our body.

We are going to reap what we are sowing whether or not we are a Christian.

The Spirit we have been given is the Holy Spirit of the Holy God. If we will cooperate with Him in our thoughts, speech, and actions, He, the Spirit of God will make us holy. When the Lord appears the same Holy Spirit we now have will fill our mortal body.

But if we yield to our sinful nature, not purifying ourselves by the power of Christ, we will be raised in the Day of the Lord with a body of corruption, a body that shows in itself what we have practiced while living on the earth.

Flee, flee, flee from any teacher of "grace" who tells you that you can practice sin and reap eternal life and joy. He is a false teacher. He is leading you to agony of body and soul.

We will be rewarded in our body or we will be punished in our body. We will be in our body for eternity, whether joyously in the Presence of God and the Lamb, or in torment with the devil and his angels. We are making that choice today, not by our doctrinal beliefs but by our behavior.

And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)

May he strengthen your hearts so you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (I Thessalonians 3:13)

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (I Thessalonians 4:7)

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. (Hebrews 12:10)

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; For it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."~ Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. (I Peter 1:13-17)

I am only too aware numerous theologians and ministers of our day will hasten to assure us that the above passages are "beautiful and nice" and we ought to read them and think about them; but whether or not we see fit to obey them certainly has little if anything to do with our salvation.

Oh well!

More room at the top.

The side rooms all around the temple were wider at each successive level. The structure surrounding the temple was built in ascending stages, so the rooms widened as one went upward. A stairway went up from the lowest floor to the top floor through the middle floor. (Ezekiel 41:7)

As we make our pilgrimage up the slopes of Mount Zion we find there are "wider rooms," so to speak. When we begin in Christ we have a certain amount of spiritual "room" in which we live. As we continue over several years, the amount of spiritual room increases. Much greater comprehension of God and Christ develop in us. It is easier for us to carry our cross than it was at the beginning. Although the tests become more difficult, there is given increased grace so we are able to overcome and maintain our joy in the Lord.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, And you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (II Peter 1:10,11)

Overemphasis on sovereign grace has removed the New Testament concept that we emerge into a fuller salvation as we diligently apply ourselves to the things of Christ. Indeed, as we press forward each day our vision and our opportunities for service are enlarged. Soon we find ourselves praying for more holiness of speech and action, that we might really be with Jesus as He is—in the very center of God’s holy Person and will.

Truly, there is a reward for serving the Lord.

Established on a foundation.

I saw that the temple had a raised base all around it, forming the foundation of the side rooms. It was the length of the rod, six long cubits. ((Ezekiel 41:8)

It is of the greatest importance that a foundation be established in our life. There are twelve foundations of the wall that surrounds the new Jerusalem. Various precious stones are set in the foundations, along with the names of the Apostles of the Lamb. This gives us some idea of the importance of foundations.

Abraham was looking for a city that has foundations, because the world has been founded on the seas and the waters, not on solid rock.

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10)

Notice below that the city with foundations is coming to the earth. We are looking forward to a city that is coming.

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 3:11)

The higher our destiny the deeper God will dig before He comes to ground level and commences to erect the visible structure. This is why we must be exceedingly patient as the Lord brings us through much tribulation.

A new Christian who is active in all forms of church work—even the work of an elder and pastor—is on shaky ground. Satan will wait until the time is right and then strike. The new Christian whose foundation does not go deep enough may fall.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. (Psalms 24:1,2)

We may ask ourselves, "Precisely what is the foundation?" The foundation is, of course, Jesus Christ. He is the sure Foundation that God has chosen. There is no other foundation on which the Church can be constructed.

However, the foundation is more than a belief that Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. The foundation is the righteous character and behavior that proceed from the forming of Christ in us.

One may notice in the above verses that God has not founded the world on a solid foundation but upon the seas and the waters. Then, as Psalm 24 proceeds we see the foundation of righteousness that God requires of every person who would be saved into the new world of righteousness.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalms 24:3-5)

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalms 11:3)

For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright. (Psalms 24:7)

Can you see, in the above passages, the emphasis on standing uprightly on a sure foundation? "Stand in his holy place." "The upright."

Notice that it is the righteous who are affected when the foundations are destroyed.

When we are behaving in an unrighteous manner we have no foundation under us. We are adrift in God’s universe.

The following verse is worthy of thought:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so in him we might become the righteousness of God. (II Corinthians 5:21)

Precisely how do we, in Christ, become the righteousness of God?

The first step is to look up from the Law of Moses, or from whatever religious laws and principles we have been using to obtain righteousness, and receive the forgiveness that comes from placing our faith in the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Now we are without condemnation. At this point we are the righteousness of God, although much remains to be done.

This is as far as the Protestant Reformation takes us.

The second step, which is the burden of the Spirit in our day, is to follow the Spirit of God at all times. As we study the Scriptures the Spirit of God points out to us aspects of our personality that are not part of the Life of Christ, who has been conceived in us. Our task then is to denounce and renounce the fleshly nature that has been shown to us, to accept our forgiveness, and to have faith that God will remove the sinful nature and create Christ in its stead.

Each day a part of us dies and each day the Nature of Christ fills the place in our personality. We die and live, die and live, die and live.

This is how we become, in Christ, the righteousness of God. We behave righteously; we tell the truth; we are kind and loving; we are faithful in keeping our promises; we are honest in business transactions; we do not seek to gain joy by depriving others. We are upright before God and man.

But this righteousness is not proceeding from our original personality but from Christ who is being formed in us.

The sinner has no foundation. All of his ways are confused, devious, and unstable. The individual who has been forgiven through the blood of the cross, and who now is living by the Life of Jesus Christ, is clear, straightforward, and stable. He has been founded on the Rock of Ages. He always is standing on the holy hill of the Lord.

The Lord Jesus advised us to build our house on the rock. According to the Lord, we do this by obeying His teaching.

I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. (Luke 6:47,48)

We are being made in the image of Christ. We are being made a rock. God desires that each member of the royal priesthood be a rock on which people may depend during the tumultuous days that are ahead.

See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. (Isaiah 32:1,2)

First, we get our feet on solid ground by following the Lord and doing what He says, as He enables us. But Christ does not want to stop with just saving us. He desires us to become a rock so other people may find shelter throughout the age of moral horrors on the horizon.

In Mount Zion shall be deliverance and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. The Lord is calling out that remnant today.

But how do we ourselves become a rock, a shelter? It is all through the Lord Jesus, of course.

We become a rock in the same manner that all rocks are formed. We are treated to heat and pressure.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (II Timothy 2:3)

Perhaps the Lord has decided to make you a rock. Perhaps right now you are going through dark places that you never thought you as an experienced Christian would ever suffer.

Take heart! You are in a tunnel, not a grave. There is light at the end, the light of the Lord. Endure hardship patiently as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. In the future you will be a shelter from the storm for other people, both believers and those who do not know the Lord.

The beauty of holiness.

The face of a man toward the palm tree on one side and the face of a lion toward the palm tree on the other. They were carved all around the whole temple. (Ezekiel 41:19)

There is much ornamentation included in the description of the temple. So it is in the inward nature of the Christian. There must be the beauty of holiness as well as the granite, iron, and fire that proceed from prolonged denial and other forms of suffering and imprisonment.

We must have six months of the bitter and six months of the sweet, as in the Book of Esther. There always is a danger, when the Lord leads us through long periods of denial, of our becoming bitter, or fatalistic, or even angry with God. We must be very careful this does not happen to us.

The Lord Jesus is not pleased with a bitter, hateful, angry religious person. Such an individual is not an overcomer and will not receive the rewards assigned to the overcomers.

The Song of Solomon informs us that the Lord is attracted by the beauty of His Bride, even though she may be required to endure hard work.

Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected. (Song of Solomon 1:6)

The above verse is telling us that organized Christianity may require the members of the Bride of the Lamb to work so hard to glorify the manmade structures they forget to take care of the glory the Lord desires to place in their inward nature.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:4,5)

The grinding duties of the babylonish religious systems and the seemingly endless dreads and pressures the believer experiences can destroy the inward love and beauty that Christ insists be found in His Bride. To succumb to the daily problems rather than continually praying through to victory will result in a bitter personality, a personality that has fallen from its initial place in Christ at the right hand of the Father.

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalms 27:4)

The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. (Psalms 45:11)

From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth. (Psalms 50:2)

Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar. (Isaiah 33:17)

The LORD their God will save them on that day as the flock of his people. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women. (Zechariah 9:16,17)

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (I Peter 3:3,4)

We understand, therefore, that the Scripture has a great deal to say about beauty.

The table.

There was a wooden altar three cubits high and two cubits square; its corners, its base and its sides were of wood. The man said to me, "This is the table that is before the Lord." (Ezekiel 41:22)

When you think about life you readily can see how much involves the "table." Much—perhaps most—of human communication and entertainment takes place at a table.

I think fellowship at a table will not cease after the present life is over but will continue after we die, and then after the resurrection from the dead.

Consider the following:

He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)

And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29,30)

The Lord has fellowship with us at the banquet hall. There we rejoice in His love and Presence. How wonderful to live always where we are feasting with the Lord.

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire,~ clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank. (Exodus 24:9-11)

There is, however, a greater experience than eating at the table of God in Heaven. It is that of eating at the table of Christ in our heart.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

When we open the door of our personality to the Lord, He enters and sits down at the table with us. We feed on His body and blood. He feeds on our worship and obedience.

Every moment of every day the Lord Jesus is knocking at the door of our personality. Every moment of every day we are to hear His voice and open the door. Every moment of every day He is to be eating of our worship and obedience and we are to be eating His body and drinking His blood.

Just as the Lord Jesus Christ was not created by God but born of God, so it is true that our new born-again inward nature is not created by God but born of God.

Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:13)

We stand in relation to Jesus Christ as Christ stands to the Father.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)

There is no concept more central to the new covenant than that of the forming and dwelling of Christ in us. The blood of Christ that we drink, not only the blood of atonement but the nourishing of our new nature, is the blood of the covenant.

Every time we obey the Lord, doing what He says, we are fed from His body and blood. In this manner the Kingdom of God is formed in us. In this manner we are married to the Lamb.

God dwells eternally in Christ. Christ dwells eternally in us if we are willing to let go of our own life that He may live in us. Because Christ is dwelling in us, the Father also is dwelling in us. In this manner we become the eternal throne of God.

God’s answer to the rebellion of the angels is to take the dust of the ground and from this form His eternal throne.

From the saved multitudes there is being drawn out a bride for the Lamb. The Father, the Son, and the Bride compose one living source of Divine, eternal Life and Light. All the saved peoples of the earth may then come and drink freely of the Holy Spirit.

If you are a Christian you may find that God is dealing very specifically with you. You no longer are your own. God has chosen you to be His eternal dwelling place. In order for you to be His dwelling place He must remove from you your trust in the world spirit, the lusts and passions of your flesh, and particularly your self-will. It is the third area, that of self-will, that is the most difficult area for us to surrender. Yet as long as we seek to save our own life and way, we are not eligible to be part of the expression of God in the universe.

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that we always are to be inviting Christ into every aspect of our life. We always are to be meditating in the Word of God. We always are to be obeying the numerous commandments of the New Testament, looking to the Lord Jesus for wisdom and strength to do His will. We always are to be making certain we are with Him where He is, doing what He wants.

And think about the next verse:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalms 23:5)

We Christians often imagine we will be able to serve the Lord better when there is less pressure on us. The truth is, it is in the presence of our enemies that Jesus prepares a table before us. This is one way in which Christ shows disdain for His and our enemies.

There is altogether too much talk in Christian circles about the Antichrist, Satan, and demons. The Lord Jesus is insulted when we imply He is not well able to provide for us no matter how much Satan roars.

There are those today who are worried about computer chips being implanted in us, about the mark of the beast. In actuality, we have the mark of the beast on our head and on our hand when we are trusting in money for survival and security. When our central goal in life is to amass money, rather than to keep ourselves in Jesus where He is, we are worshiping Antichrist.

No matter what profession or job we work at, we must be abiding in Christ all the while. If we are working only for money, not abiding in Christ and being continually aware of His Presence, then we have the mark in our head and hand. Computer chips have nothing to do with it.

The cloud of witnesses.

Now the upper rooms were narrower, for the galleries took more space from them than from the rooms on the lower and middle floors of the building. (Ezekiel 42:5)

We had found in an earlier verse that the rooms become wider as one climbs toward the top floor of the Temple.

The side rooms all around the temple were wider at each successive level. The structure surrounding the temple was built in ascending stages, so the rooms widened as one went upward. A stairway went up from the lowest floor to the top floor through the middle floor. (Ezekiel 41:7)

But in 42:5 we notice that "the upper rooms were narrower." They were narrower because the galleries took more space from them.

Perhaps the meaning of this is that as we move higher in the Lord we increasingly encounter the great cloud of witnesses, who take up part of the room, so to speak. They may be represented by the "galleries."

Indeed, we profit from the lives and teachings of the patriarchs, and now they are observing us that they might profit from our lives and teaching.

I wonder sometimes if we really understand what happens to us after we die. My personal opinion is that physical death is one of the least significant events of our lifetime.

Concepts such as all of the elect being made perfect together, the dead saints being judged along with the living (I Peter 4:5,6), the gifts and ministries laboring until we all come to the stature of the fullness of Christ, the unblemished Bride of the Lamb, seem to indicate the members of the Body of Christ continue to be dealt with after they die in much the same manner as when they were alive.

If this is not true, how are we all going to be made perfect together?

Why does Peter say that God is judging the dead as well as the living?

How can we all come to the stature of the fullness of Christ unless we keep being ministered to after we die?

How can the entire Bride of the Lamb come to unblemished purity unless the process of purification continues? For it is evident that numerous Christians have died without having made significant progress in character and moral transformation.

I do not know the answer to these questions for I do not have clear scriptural support with which to answer them. But until I learn otherwise I will continue to believe the balconies of Heaven are filled with deceased saints who are watching us and taking notes, so the plan of salvation that is being unfolded on earth in the present hour, as well as the understanding of the Word, can be administered to the saints in glory.

Be sure to understand this does not mean you can waste your time now and go to school later, after you die. Whenever Christ comes to you, you must respond. If you do not, you will be judged as an unfaithful, lazy slave. You will not be permitted to recover later, for it is appointed to people once to die and after this to be judged.

We are responsible only for that which has been given us. But make no mistake—we indeed shall be responsible for all that has been given to us, and the Lord expects us to use what has been given to us so it will increase in value. Grace and mercy have little to do with the law of sowing and reaping. If we do not use our talents we shall be thrown into the outer darkness, and grace will not save us in that hour.

The throne of God.

Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, And I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen when he came to destroy the city and like the visions I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown. The glory of the LORD entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. While the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from inside the temple. He said: "Son of man, This is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name—neither they nor their kings—by their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings at their high places. (Ezekiel 43:1-7)

"This is the place of my throne." We know from this statement that Ezekiel is referring to the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22:3)

To my way of thinking, this is one of the greatest concepts of the Bible.

Now, we know Heaven is God’s throne. Why, then, are we speaking of the Throne of almighty God being in the new Jerusalem located on the new earth?

The Lord Jesus informed us that if we would overcome as He overcame we would sit with Him on His throne just as Christ sits with the Father on His Throne.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:20,21)

Here is a marvel. The throne of God is in Heaven, and yet it is in our heart. God and His Lamb will sit on the throne of our heart if we choose to overcome. What do we overcome? We overcome the idols that seek to pull us down from our high place in God.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, Which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:18-23)

We can see that the Lord Jesus Christ governs the universe from His place at the right hand of the Father. Yet He is in us, and because He is in us the Father also is in us. He who has the Son has the Father also.

But notice:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6)

So we now are there in Christ on the throne of God in the heavens. How can Christ and the Father be in us, and we in them, while we are on the earth, and yet have the same be true in the heavens?

It is because the spirit realm is not bound by the same laws of space and time that regulate the conditions on the earth.

Having received Christ we already are with Him in the heavenlies, at the right hand of God the Father.

Therefore, Satan seeks by every means to pull us down from our high place in God.

Incidentally, our goal is not to go to Heaven. What good would that do? Our goal is to maintain our high place in God, and going to Heaven has nothing to do with establishing the throne of God in us. To die and go to be with Christ is better than this present world. It is to go home. But this still is not our high place in God. Our high place in God is independent of whether we are alive on the earth or at home with Jesus Christ.

And so we have to overcome in order to maintain the position given to us when first we were received by Jesus Christ.

Our problem is, we have numerous idols in our life—things, circumstances, and relationships we cling to. If we are to be the throne of almighty God there can be nothing governing us except Christ, and God in Him.

God uses varied pressures and pains to free us from our idols. The individual who will not give God anything or anyone God asks for is not fit as yet to be the throne of God. If we would overcome and be the throne of God we must do God’s will at all times, in every situation, as cheerfully as we can. Sometimes God’s will is agreeable to us, and sometimes disagreeable. This has nothing to do with it. If we do God’s will we are a son of God. If we do not do God’s will promptly and accurately at all times we are a rebel against God and totally unfit to be His throne, to fulfill our calling as "man."

You may be a believer, a Christian. But if you are not doing God’s will you are a rebel against God. You are still part of the original rebellion.

How can you discover God’s will? Present your body a living sacrifice to God. Deny yourself. Take up your cross. Follow the Lord Jesus every moment of the day and night. Then you will find God’s will.

To not do this is to not be a disciple, a Christian. You may believe in Christ but you are not doing His will, and shall receive punishment sooner or later.

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matthew 28:18)

The above verse speaks of the throne of God. All authority has been given to the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus is willing to share His throne, but only to those who seek Him continually until all of their idols are beneath their feet.

I believe man was created to be the Throne of God.

Perhaps it is true that when the angels rebelled against God, God decided to show His disdain for their ambition. God did this by taking some dust, perhaps the most useless material on the earth, forming it into His own image and likeness, filling it with Christ, and then charging it to govern the works of His hands. The mightiest of the angels then were commissioned to serve God by ministering to His sons.

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor And put everything under his feet."~ In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. (Hebrews 2:5-8)

In the above passage we have a description of the throne of God. It is given to man to be the place of that throne, to be the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, the holy city. For this reason we must be diligent to seek the Lord until we have risen victoriously over every obstacle. In so doing we will be God’s son, God will be our God, and we shall inherit all things.

I think when Antichrist finally is given the authority and power to reach to the heavens and shake the host, at that time the Throne of God will begin to pass from the heavens and enter the remnant of saints who have fled into the wilderness. Thus, even in the darkest hour, there always shall be deliverance in Mount Zion and in the remnant whom the Lord has called.

Obviously there is no greater position of authority, power, and glory, than to be part of the Throne of God. Such an elevated status makes every king who has ruled on the earth appear as nothing more than a messenger boy.

Yet, God will never give His glory to another. So in order to be qualified as part of the eternal throne of God we have to lose our individuality in favor of becoming one with Christ in God. Then, when God assigns authority, He is assigning it to Himself; for we have become an integral part of Him.

The question now is: "Are God’s people willing to surrender their right to be themselves in favor of becoming a part of the Lord?"

If not, they cannot possibly move past the Pentecostal experience to the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.

"In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts." (Jeremiah 3:16,17)

Students of the Tabernacle of the Congregation will recognize the awesome significance of the removal of the Ark of the Covenant from the consciousness of God’s elect. Only the moving of the Divine throne from Heaven into the Church could warrant such a dramatic change in God’s economy.

When one gives it careful thought it can be seen that the bringing of the throne into the hearts of people is the core of what redemption signifies.

The original sin occurred when Satan chose to rebel against the Father’s will. The original sin was rebellion.

Today the people of the world are in rebellion against God’s will, and most of the Christians are in rebellion against God’s will.

If you do not believe most of the Christians are in rebellion against God’s will, ask a friend who is a believer if he or she is doing God’s will. You probably will find that he is not certain but is trusting grace will bring him to Heaven. He or she will die and pass into eternity without ever having made a resolute determination to live a victorious life, to do God’s absolute will.

It is commonly believed among us that no one can do God’s absolute will while living on the earth, and so we ought to do the best we can and trust in grace to bring us to Heaven.

Why do we not know if we are doing God’s absolute will? One reason is that we have been taught it is impossible to do God’s will. A second reason is that we are afraid if we go to God and tell Him we desire to do His perfect will at all times and in every situation, God will ask us to do something we do not wish to do.

And so we continue in ignorance and a sense of guilt.

It is likely that we really are doing God’s perfect will and God will assure us of this if we ask Him. On the other hand, God actually may ask us to give up or receive something that we do not wish to yield or accept. We would rather continue in ignorance than discover the truth.

Abraham obeyed God perfectly. God expects the same of us. Until we are willing to do God’s will in every detail of our life, we are part of the worldwide rebellion against God.

The Kingdom of God, the rule of God, began when the Lord Jesus cried, out "Not My will but Yours be done." Obviously the Lord’s will was not God’s will at that time.

Jesus Christ was made perfect through suffering. Next in line are the victorious saints. Each of them must cry out, "Not my will but Yours be done." To not do this in every circumstance is to lose our place in the first resurrection from the dead, in the army of the Lord.

God’s plan of redemption includes the destruction of all rebellion from the creation. God requires absolute obedience of every saved person.

First Christ, our Captain, was made perfect in obedience.

Next, we must be made perfect in obedience, and we can be as we look to Him at all times.

When Christ has formed an obedient army, He will return with that army and drive Satan from the earth, meanwhile destroying the armies of the wicked.

The obedient saints will govern the nations of the earth for one thousand years, destroying all rebellion with the rod of iron.

It also seems likely that the remainder of the elect, those who were not raised when the Lord comes, will be dealt with during the thousand years of the Kingdom Age that they also might be reconciled to God in personality. If this is the case, we see that the entire thousand-year Kingdom Age, often referred to as the Millennium, is for the purpose of furthering the redemptive work of God in removing all rebellion and disobedience from His creation.

When the Church, the new Jerusalem, has been made ready, it will be brought down to reside forever on the new earth. The Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it. God’s saints will be in the city forever, but by the power of multiple presence they will be able to go forth throughout the creation and compel all saved creatures to do the will of God.

This being the case, we can understand those of us who hope to govern with Christ must be very diligent in obeying the Father in every detail of personality and behavior. Until we are perfectly obedient we still are part of the problem rather than of the solution.

It is easy to see that after we have been forgiven through the atoning blood, have had Christ born in us, and have been filled with the Spirit of God, that our principal task is to learn to obey God. In this manner we become part of the great Throne of God and of the Lamb that will govern the universe for eternity.

The sin in our personality.

He said: "Son of man, This is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name—neither they nor their kings—by their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings at their high places. (Ezekiel 43:7)

"Their kings at their high places." The sin in our personality is in two forms, so to speak. There are the great kings (which differ from person to person), and then there are the numerous expressions or symptoms of these resident kings.

For example: we may have a great king of pride in our personality. One manifestation of this king may be lying, or having to have our own way, or a desire to be preeminent, or self-pity. The lying, having to have our own way, and the desire to be preeminent will manifest themselves in our actions toward other people. Yet the great king of pride remains hidden and probably unknown to us.

As we are faithful in confessing, denouncing, and renouncing our sins, the day will come when the Lord is ready to deal with the kings. The dealing of the Lord may come to us as a burning, fiery judgment. The heat of the fire will cause these leviathans to reveal themselves.

When they come forth from their lairs, breathing smoke and fire, do not be afraid or dismayed. Just confess them, denounce them as unworthy of the Kingdom of God, renounce them, telling the Lord you never want them in your personality ever again, and then draw near to the Lord.

The power of the Lord Jesus Christ is so great He will dismiss these monsters with the Word of His power, and you will go free, a new person in Jesus Christ.

But such total deliverance depends on your being diligent and faithful in confessing the sinful actions of your personality as the Holy Spirit makes you aware of them. The sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit to put to death the actions of their sinful nature.

God’s commandments and instructions.

And if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. (Ezekiel 43:11)

God has many commandments and instructions in the New Testament. The current Christian teaching of "grace" informs us that it is not required that we observe God’s commandments and instructions. We are going to go to Heaven by grace merely by pronouncing the name of Jesus. This is why Christianity is in the condition it is.

The Jews found a way to get around the laws of God. The Christians have found a way to get around the laws of God. So the Jews lost their temple and their land, and we Christians have lost the Presence and awe of God in our churches. In many if not most of the Christian churches one hears an incessant, unscriptural emphasis on grace and the so-called "rapture" (the removal of the Christians to Heaven).

Since such teaching is without foundation in the Scriptures, Christ is not being formed in the believers.

Today, however, the Holy Spirit is moving in America and we are being brought back to the writings of the New Testament. We indeed shall have a revival, and it will be based on what the New Testament states, not on the traditions that have been developed through the years.

If there is a key to the victorious Christian life it is that symbolized by the expression "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon." There is a part we play in our salvation, and there is a part the Lord plays.

When we do not do our part but just trust the Lord to change us, we do not move forward in the plan of salvation. When we do not look to the Lord at all times but attempt to keep His commandments in our own strength, we soon become discouraged and frustrated.

We have to do our part and then the Lord will do His part. No moral transformation will take place in our personality if we do not do what the New Testament teaches but wait for Christ to change us in a sovereign manner. He has told us what to do, and if we do not do it we will be regarded as a lazy, disobedient servant.

Salvation is change in our behavior. We are saved from sin. When we do not do what the Lord said in the New Testament we are not changed; we are not saved. Salvation, which is moral transformation, has nothing to do with going to Heaven. The purpose of the change is that we might have fellowship with God and serve Him in His Kingdom.

We do not have to look very far in the New Testament to see the error of the teaching that views saving grace as the pronouncing of the name of Christ, or the mere dwelling of Christ in our personality; that there is nothing we are to do but wait for Christ to change us.

The following verse reveals clearly that the "Jesus does it all" doctrine is not scriptural:

Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame. (I Corinthians 15:34)

Think of the impact of this statement: "Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning"!

Stop sinning! Stop sinning!

The expression "stop sinning" should be at the forefront of Christian teaching and thinking.

But it is not! By one means or another, Divine grace is presented as an alternative to the admonition to "stop sinning."

But it is only as we stop sinning that we make any headway in the program of salvation.

Of course we cannot stop sinning by our own strength. When we read the New Testament the Spirit shows us the sin in our personality. Then we are to pray until we gain victory over the sin. And so on to the next city, so to speak. This is the true program of salvation and there is none other.

If we are faithful in the program of redemption from Satan, then, at His coming, the Lord Jesus will complete the work of moral transformation. He will finish the job and we finally will be without sin in our inward nature and also in our outward form. This is the omega of salvation. But if we are not faithful today, then we will be judged in the Day of Christ and receive in ourselves the consequences of our behavior.

But does the Lord Jesus actually expect us to gain victory over sin in the present hour while we are on the earth? Are we really supposed to keep His commandments?

Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19,20)

We may assume the above passage means because we have received Christ we, by ascribed righteousness, are more righteous than the most devout Orthodox Jew.

If however you will read the two verses it becomes clear that the Lord is referring to righteous behavior. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law, while professing belief in the Law, were actually unrighteous in behavior. They were covetous and envious. They put heavy loads on the back of people but would not help carry them. They themselves would not enter the Kingdom and hindered those who would. They loved preeminence, to make a show of their religion.

As Christ works within us and we cooperate with the Spirit of God we gain victory over covetousness, over envy, over religious hypocrisy, over worldliness, lust, and self-will. Our Christ-wrought righteousness actually surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses. In this manner we enter the Kingdom of God.

If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15)

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21)

Jesus replied, If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)

If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. (I Corinthians 14:37)

For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. (I Thessalonians 4:2)

We know we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (I John 2:3-6)

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Satan, understanding that God will not work with people unless they keep His commandments, has striven mightily to persuade Christians that they need not keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.

Nowhere is this device seen more clearly than in our present-day formula for receiving salvation.

However, notice the scriptural formula for receiving salvation:

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

To repent is to stop disobeying God’s commandments and to begin to obey God’s commandments.

We could paraphrase the above: Stop disobeying God’s commandments and resolve to obey God’s commandments and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

But what do we preach today when someone desires to receive salvation?

"Let Jesus into your heart."

Can you see we are not emphasizing turning from disobedience to obedience?

And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17)

The concept of letting Jesus into our heart comes from the following verse:

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

The above verse is not a tool for winning the lost, it is an admonition to the church in Laodicea. The idea is that Christ is not dwelling in many of the believers of today. So He is standing at the door and knocking. He does this every day of our life.

Christ is always asking for admittance to our busy plans and programs. If we do not hear His gentle knocking He sends hailstorms and coals of fire on our head, so to speak, until it dawns on us that God is speaking to us. If we are willing to let Christ into our life He dines on our worship and obedience and we dine on His body and blood.

Such admitting and dining is to occur continually. The knocking will become less severe as we are obedient.

Acts 2:38 (above) is the proper way to approach a sinner, as the Spirit guides us. Revelation 3:20 is the message of the Spirit to the believers of today, informing us that Christ desires to dwell in us. In many instances we are seeking to build the Kingdom of God in our own strength. We need to spend more time waiting on the Lord to find out what it is He desires in these days.

Does any of the above sound to you like we are supposed to be saved by believing in Christ but are not bound to obey His commands? The truth is, the above passages reveal clearly that current Christian preaching is unscriptural.

No human being will ever make progress in the program of redemption until he or she determines to obey Christ and His Apostles.

The altar.

These are the measurements of the altar in long cubits, that cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth: Its gutter is a cubit deep and a cubit wide, with a rim of one span around the edge. And this is the height of the altar: (Ezekiel 43:13)

This is the Altar of Burnt Offering. All sacrifices were offered here. The altar of the Law of Moses symbolizes the cross of Calvary. God always meets man at the cross of Christ.

The true Christian has an altar in himself. He always is ready to confess his sin and receive Divine forgiveness. We reveal this altar when we receive the flesh and blood of Christ in the Communion service.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

We overcome through the blood of the Lamb. Though we are pressing toward perfection, we are not there yet. This is why we always need the forgiveness and cleansing of the blood of Jesus Christ—to make up for our sin and rebellion until we are totally delivered.

Resurrection life comes from our death with Christ on the cross.

It is only through the death of our entire first personality, that which was born of our physical parents, that God is able to attack and remove our sin nature.

For we know our old self was crucified with him so the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— (Romans 6:6)

As long as we elect to remain alive in our first personality our struggle against sin is hopeless. Sin can be conquered only as we gives ourselves to crucifixion with Christ, choosing continually to deny ourselves as the Holy Spirit leads us, patiently carrying our cross after Christ.

It is only by dying with Christ that we bear eternal fruit. The Gospel of the Kingdom is not spread solely by communicating information but as someone is willing to die in the Lord.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)

But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself. He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. (John 12:32,33)

It is the cross of Christ, not His marvelous teaching, that draws people to Christ. God always meets man at the cross. Sometimes religious seekers speculate about the merits of Jesus as a teacher. While such thinking may accomplish some good, there is no salvation for us until we bow at the cross and accept the blood atonement for our sins. God will accept no other effort or sacrifice.

The mainspring of the Christian redemption is death and resurrection. It is only as we die that Christ can be resurrected in us.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:10)

It is only as we assign our entire personality to the cross that the body of sin in us can be destroyed.

The Apostle Paul has borne more eternal fruit, perhaps, than any other individual with the exception of the Lord Jesus. But Paul continually was brought down to death, experiencing a great deal of suffering; while Christ continually was being lifted up—primarily through the writings of Paul.

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (II Corinthians 4:11)

What does it mean to die? To die in Christ is to turn away from heartfelt, intense desires, as the Spirit leads. It means to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He puts our idols under our feet. It means to choose to do God’s will when it conflicts with our own.

To die in Christ is to assign our personality to the cross, to be willing to share the sufferings of Christ.

To die is to present our body a living sacrifice to God that His will may be done in every detail of our personality and behavior.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)

Paul was ready to be an offering to God.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. (II Timothy 4:6)

It appears most Christian programs are operated by living people rather than by those who have died in Christ and now are living by His resurrection life.

It is written that Samson slew more Philistines by his death than by his life. So it is true today that God is ready to tear down all that Satan has constructed. But such victory can come only through those who love not their lives to the death.

The Christian religion, when its proponents have not died with Christ, has been the source of untold misery in the world. We need only to think of the wars between the Catholics and the Protestants, the Inquisition, the struggle between the Irish Protestants and Catholics, the attempt of the Serbian "Christians" to annihilate the Muslims in Kosovo, the bitterness, division, and struggle for preeminence found in numerous Christian church bodies.

Satan is very active in the Christian religion when the members have not died with Christ. Actually, the only true Christian is he or she who has given himself or herself over to the death of the cross of self-denial.

Today we see the rise of Antichrist in America, as money is viewed as the substitute for God’s power, and education is regarded as the substitute for the Divine Spirit of wisdom and knowledge. No believer will be able to withstand the pressure of the Antichrist world spirit until he or she chooses to die in the Lord.

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13)

From this point forward, those who choose to die in the Lord will rest from their own works. Yet, an abundance of good will follow their life.

Let us spiritualize the following verse:

During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. (Revelation 9:6)

No doubt the primary interpretation of this verse is that people will be in great pain and anguish and yet be unable to die. I think the Lord has impressed on me lately that there will be terrific mental and spiritual oppression on the minds of people, even on some of those professing faith in Christ. Anyone who has had severe anxiety knows the agony of mental oppression. Death would be preferable; yet many will not be permitted to die.

However, it may also be true that those who finally elect to die in Christ will discover they are unable to do so. We know from Daniel that in the last days Antichrist will be given authority to reach up to the heavenly host and tear some of the host down from the right hand of God. This is because their still remains a portion of rebellion in them. Everything shall be shaken, including the earth and the heavens. Everything that is not completely in subjection to Jesus Christ will be removed from all positions of authority and power.

We may not always be able to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow the Lord; so let us take full advantage of our present opportunity to do so.

From every conceivable standpoint, to die in the Lord is infinitely more to be desired than to cling to our old self. Only by being crucified with Christ and having Christ become every aspect of our life will we be able to survive spiritually and bear fruit throughout the coming age of moral horrors.

Powerful communication.

The altar hearth is four cubits high, and four horns project upward from the hearth. (Ezekiel 43:15)

Four is the number of communication. Horns speak of power. Here we have the power of Calvary communicating God’s plan of redemption.

The Christian churches seek to communicate the Word of life. The heart of Christianity is evangelism and missions. Missions is evangelism at a distance. I doubt if there is a subject more central to Christian thinking and behavior than is true of evangelism and missions.

It may be true as we approach the last great preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation that we look once more at the Scriptures to see how God intends His salvation be communicated.

We mentioned previously that it is not the teachings of Christ that bring salvation to men but His death on the cross. The same is true of the Apostle Paul. It is not just that he wrote epistles that bring life to us but the fact that his letters were brought forth while his flesh was being brought down to the death of the cross.

God’s Life is communicated through death. It may be helpful for some of the believers to go to school to learn to evangelize and be missionaries. But the eternal works of the Kingdom of God are wrought when someone is willing to lay down his or her life that the Life of Christ may be brought forth.

Life from death is one of the major dimensions of the communication of the Divine redemption.

Sometimes it appears as though Christian churches are operating with the idea in mind that God has left it up to them to spread the Good News of the Gospel. Are we by any chance ignoring God’s sovereign plan for spreading the Word?

In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation we see that at a specific point in time God will appoint two witnesses to declare His Person and will to the nations of the earth. Although some have interpreted the eleventh chapter to mean two personages from the Old Testament will be sent back to earth to work miracles, it is our point of view that the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah explains the meaning of Chapter Eleven of Revelation. The interpretation is that in the last days, when both righteousness and sin are coming to maturity, God will intervene and finish the building of His house not by might nor by power but by His Spirit.

As we understand the symbolism, the two Lampstands are Christ and His Body, and the two olive trees signify that Christ and His Body will bear witness by the power of an unlimited anointing of the Holy Spirit.

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)

We notice in the verse above that God, after He has judged those who are bowed before the Altar of Incense, crying out, "Not my will but yours be done," will empower His saints to bear witness to ends of the earth. Power never before witnessed on the earth will be demonstrated in order that the nations may be prepared for the return of the Lord to set up His Kingdom on the earth.

However, regardless of how one wishes to interpret the symbolism, it is evident that at an appointed hour God will step into the affairs of earth and bring forth a witness of unprecedented power. The witness will be borne for an appointed time, and then God will allow it to be overcome by Antichrist.

This same witness is described as follows:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthews 24:14)

The message of the two witnesses will be the same as that of the first century: "The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News."

The point we are making is this: We need to wait on the Lord to find out what He wants said and how He wants to say it. How waiting on the Lord to find out what He wants said and how He wants to say it fit into current attempts to bring the Gospel to the nations I am not certain. But of one thing I am certain: if we desire to communicate God’s salvation it might be a good idea to wait on the Lord until we know what He wants said and how He wants to say it.

In the first chapter of the Book of Acts the disciples asked the Lord about the coming of the Kingdom. The Lord put them off, and instructed them that He would empower them with His Spirit so they could bear witness of His atoning death and triumphant resurrection.

Let us remember that the disciples had been taught by the Lord Himself. Yet He did not tell them to just go forth and repeat what they had learned from Him. He told them they would receive power from Him and thus would be able to communicate God’s redemption to mankind.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Perhaps we can learn from this that even though we understand the Gospel we need to wait on the Lord until we are empowered to communicate it.

In the first two verses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation we notice that the Holy Place of God’s dwelling was being measured, particularly those who were worshiping at the Altar of Incense. It is our point of view that these two verses speak of the program of judgment that is taking place today, as the Spirit of God is judging our personality to see if we are growing up to the stature of the fullness of Christ.

The Lord wants to bring us into a more perfect conformity to His image before He trusts us with the power of the harvest rain. And too, this is a "sackcloth" testimony. This means the message will be one of repentance and the messengers will walk humbly in the sight of God. Gone will be the showmanship so prevalent today.

Perhaps we are attempting to communicate the plan of redemption, in some instances, when the Lord would rather that we wait until we find out what He intends to do. Maybe He desires that we faithfully obey His will rather than to try to build the Kingdom by our own talents and zeal.

We of today need to pray for a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit that we may bear witness of God’s will. The true witness and Word of God always must proceed from the Holy Spirit. That which is accomplished by the wisdom, energy, and talents of human beings will not have an eternal impact on the development of the Kingdom of God.

The early Apostles were given power to communicate the truth of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33)

God desires to bring us further into Christ so the witness will not be that of one person, the believer, but of two persons, the believer and Christ. It is Christ working with us who will confirm the Word with signs following. It is Christ working with and in us who will make disciples from the nations and teach them to keep His commandments.

We need also to examine the Great Commission, for we are not presenting it correctly. We Christians maintain that according to the Great Commission we are to go into all the world saving souls and building churches. But this is not the Great Commission.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19,20)

Do you see anything in the above about saving souls and building churches?

The Commission is to make disciples from every nation. We do not make disciples today. We say "let Jesus into your heart," or "take the four steps of salvation and you will be born again." Such expressions are not found in the Book of Acts. We have left the Scripture!

We are not making disciples. We are making churchgoers, very few of whom are disciples of Jesus.

They have not denied themselves. They have not taken up their cross. They are not following the Lord. They are not disciples. They are not Christians.

Are we teaching them to "obey everything I have commanded you"? We assuredly are not. We are teaching them that they are saved by grace and will go to Heaven whether or not they keep the commandments of Christ.

When we baptize people in water, are we informing them that by being baptized they are renouncing the world, they are assigning their personality to the cross with Jesus Christ, and by coming from the water they are signifying that now they are entering newness of life in the Kingdom of God? From this point forward they are to choose to be slaves of righteousness, turning away from the malice and wickedness of the world? Are we telling them, when they are baptized, that their old life is over and they now are to enter the resurrection of Christ, choosing each day to follow the Spirit of God in putting to death the deeds of their sinful nature?

We are not obeying the Great Commission until we make disciples, baptize them in water into the death of Christ and into His resurrection, and teach them to obey every commandment of Christ and His Apostles.

Furthermore, the Lord is not with us as He should be because we are not doing what He commanded.

The main emphasis of the New Testament is righteous, holy, obedient behavior, wrought in Christ through the Holy Spirit. The main emphasis of the Christian churches in America is lawless grace, an unscriptural eternal residence in Heaven, and an unscriptural rapture. We are not teaching and preaching what Christ has commanded.

The first half of the twentieth century saw numerous manifestations of God’s Presence and power as the ministers, moved by the Holy Spirit, brought people to Christ. Now God is ready to move past the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost and bring forth the fulfillments of the last three celebrations: the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles.

According to the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Leviticus, when God is moving us to a new feast, so to speak, we are to cease working and listen to God. Perhaps God is ready to do a new thing today—at least new to our generation.

God in Christ has His own ways of communicating. Perhaps it is time to cease guessing and assuming what God wants to say and how He desires to say it, and wait; trust, and obey until we know what God is doing and what we are supposed to be doing.

Perhaps also we should consider the difference between preaching the Gospel, and being a witness of God, His Person, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Christ.

The Gospel must be preached. When the Holy Spirit anoints us to preach the Word of God, the eternal Life of God is communicated to other people.

It also is true that when we bear witness, that is, when we reveal in ourselves that we have been with God, when we are able to bring Christ to people and set them free from their chains of sin, the eternal Life of God is communicated to other people.

It is the eternal life that brings salvation, not theological knowledge.

To the present hour, barring the revelation of the first-century Apostles, the Christian religion, that which is communicated by preaching, tracts, books, radio, television, and the Internet, proclaims salvation as movement to another place, to Heaven. This is not scriptural. Salvation is not a change in location but a change in what we ourselves are. When God communicates His Life it is so we will be changed, not so we will go to another place.

At one time Paradise (Heaven) was on the earth. Immediately Satan entered and chaos entered Paradise.

If God were to forgive everyone on the earth and bring them all to Heaven, chaos once again would enter Paradise.

Salvation includes forgiveness, but its primary purpose is to create a kingdom governed by the Lord Jesus Christ and those whom He has changed into His own image. That image consists of iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.

As we have stated, Christian theology can be communicated to the minds of people by the various media available today, including preaching. In this manner people can be informed of Christian doctrine.

However, unless the message is anointed by the Holy Spirit, Divine Life will not be imparted to the recipients. If Divine Life is not imparted there will be no change of personality, no forming of Christ in the individual.

If there is no forming of Christ in the individual, then we merely are making proselytes to the Christian religion. We are not saving people, that is, we are not building them into the image of Christ.

It is one matter to preach the Gospel, and it is God’s will that people enter the Kingdom of God through the preaching of the Gospel. The anointing to preach the Gospel is given to some of the members of the Body of Christ.

But it also is God’s will that every member of the Body of Christ be a witness. There is no gift of witnessing as there is of preaching. God creates witnesses. He does so by bringing the chosen person through numerous experiences, many of them distressing. God teaches us concerning Himself, His will, His ways, and His eternal purpose in Christ.

Every Christian is to be made a light to the people of the world, a covenant of God with mankind. People cannot see the Lord Jesus. But they can see us. God will make us living epistles if we follow Him faithfully and do not seek to escape from the prisons and trials He sends upon us.

It is God’s will that people see Jesus in us, just as we can see God in Jesus. We do not become such a witness overnight, but this is the direction we are heading if we will patiently look to the Lord every moment of every day.

The Apostle John had seen, heard, and handled the Word of Life. It was not Christian theology that John had seen, heard, and handled, it was the Word of Life.

Doctrine does not work the change in us that God requires, the change that itself is salvation, the change that will make it possible for us to maintain Paradise once Paradise is achieved.

The power that changes us into a witness of God is the Word of Life, the Life of God in Jesus Christ. This eternal life may come to us as the Word of God is presented to us. Or it may come through our contact with someone in whom the death of the cross is operating.

We bear witness by what we are, what we think, what we say, what we do. We overcome Satan by the word of our testimony, not by the word of our doctrine but by the word of our testimony.

As the Spirit of Life from God enters us we are changed into the image of Jesus. The power of that change, that conformity to iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father, overcomes the accuser of the brothers.

Only God can make a witness. When that witness is created he or she knows God and can inform others of God’s will. Also, as the Spirit leads, the witness can release the hearer from the chains of Satan. Jesus Christ is the true and faithful Witness of God. The Spirit will make us true and faithful witnesses of God if we will follow the Spirit diligently.

"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so you may know and believe me and understand I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me." (Isaiah 43:10)

"That you may know and believe me."

"That you may understand I am he."

In order for us to be a witness, God must have worked with us until we know and believe Him, until we understand He is God and there absolutely is no other god.

In the Lord Jesus Christ there is life, the Life of the Spirit of God. That very life is the light of men. Life is light. The eternal life proceeding from every true witness of God is the only light by which people can come to know God and His Christ, and thus live in the Presence of God and Christ.

To have eternal life is to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom God has sent into the world. Such knowledge is not religion, it is a personal relationship experienced by God, Christ, and the individual.

The dawning of the Day of the Lord.

The upper ledge also is square, fourteen cubits long and fourteen cubits wide, with a rim of half a cubit and a gutter of a cubit all around. The steps of the altar face east. (Ezekiel 43:17)

The steps of the Altar of Burnt Offering face east, looking toward the morning of the Day of the Lord. So it is that when we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood we are announcing the death of Christ until He returns.

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (I Corinthians 11:26)

It appears there is much emphasis on what Christ can do for us today, how he can give us a better job, a better education, a better marriage. It always is good to bring Christ into all that we are and do, in every detail. But we of the affluent, comfortable nations must be careful lest we forget that the vision of the Gospel is the coming of a kingdom to the earth that will bring justice to the nations. We might be more inclined to look toward the coming of the Kingdom if we were suffering to a greater extent.

When we do look to the future it is toward an unscriptural "rapture" that will remove us from the troubles of earth and lift us into Paradise so we no longer will be faced with problems, pain, and dread. This is not the "blessed hope." The blessed hope of the Christian Gospel is the return of the Lord Jesus with His saints, to raise us from the dead, and to install the righteous Kingdom of God on the earth.

One of our greatest hopes is that the Lord will remove sin from us. We think this aspect of redemption has begun already and many believers are entering into it.

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27,28)

The verse above may be referring to the Lord’s second coming in the clouds of glory. However, since at His second coming every eye shall see Him, and in the above the emphasis is on "those who are waiting for him," I tend to think we are speaking here of His coming to His disciples to help them break the chains of sin in their life.

It may be true that the breaking of the chains of sin is happening already, and then will be brought to completion in a great, climactic act of redemption at the Lord’s second coming in glory.

It may be true also that, at least in a partial sense, the wise virgins already are going out to meet the bridegroom.

It is not impossible that the coming of the Lord will include acts that take place in advance so the way of the Lord may be made straight.

"If the Son sets you free you will be free indeed." The Holy Spirit breaks the bondages of sin in our personality. The forming of Christ in us and the dwelling of God and Christ in our new personality insure that sin will never again get a grip on us.

The Jews of Jesus’ day did not recognize their Christ because they had pictured a mighty king coming with his army to set up a rule like that of Solomon. However, Anna and Simeon did recognize the Christ. Why? Because they were people of prayer.

So it is today that people of prayer are hearing from the Lord Jesus concerning the needed preparations for our returning with Him in the Day of the Lord.

We can miss the Lord by concentrating on a future external happening and not listening carefully to Him who is among us today. This is what took place with the Jews.

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:21-23)

"I too will love him and show myself to him."

Perhaps if we are looking to Jesus in the present hour He will come to us in order that we may be with Him where He is, that is, in the heart of the Father. In order to dwell with Christ in the fullness of God’s holy Being we must be set free from the chains of worldliness, the lusts and passions of the flesh, and self-will.

Notice also:

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.~ That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (II Peter 3:11,12)

Can you see in the above verses that if we will look forward to the day of God, and live holy and godly lives, we will hasten the return of the Lord?

No wonder Ezekiel says: "The steps of the altar face east."

There is no question that John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of the Lamb placed their emphasis on the Day of the Lord and the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea And saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 3:1,2)

From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17)

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)

When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

When the Lord Jesus, accompanied by the kings of righteousness over whom He is supreme King, returns to earth, He will come from the east.

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. (Revelation 16:12)

Compare:

See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. (Isaiah 32:1,2)

The teaching of the "pre-tribulation rapture" of the believers in Christ may eventually prove to be one of the major errors to have found its way into Christian thinking. The problem with this doctrine has nothing to do with its timing, whether before or after the great tribulation period. The problem is that it presents a false vision of the Day of the Lord.

The vision of the Day of the Lord, as presented in both the Old Testament and the New, is that of horrendous destruction and calamity. The unscriptural "rapture" doctrine has the believers caught up to Heaven in a joyous celebration so they will not be required to suffer in the closing days of the Church Age.

The truth is, the Lord Jesus will return in His glory with His mighty angels. The victorious Christians will be raised from the dead, glorified, and then caught up to meet Him in the air. Then they will descend with Him and work with Him in establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

But the worldly Christians, those who yield to the lusts of their flesh and who choose continually to walk in their stubborn ways, will experience suffering and destruction. This both Testaments teach clearly.

The unscriptural "rapture" teaching is leaving the lukewarm believers of our day totally unprepared for the savagery, the fury of the Day of the Lord. They are not preparing themselves to stand in the day of trouble because they have been taught they will not be on the earth during the day of trouble.

They are not following the Holy Spirit in the program of death and resurrection because they are looking forward to being caught up to Heaven in their carnality.

I do not understand why they would want to be caught up to Heaven. They do not enjoy the righteousness and holiness of God today, much preferring to live in their sinful nature. Why do they imagine they would enjoy being with Christ and His holy ones? They disobey God today; why do they imagine they would enjoy obeying God in Heaven? I do not think they have given enough thought to this.

Do you know what it would be like to be caught up to meet Christ in the air?

The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning? (Isaiah 33:14)

We have been taught that we are "saved by grace" and so we do not have to meet the standard of righteousness and holiness that would enable us to dwell with the consuming Fire of Israel.

We have been terribly deceived. It is not the purpose of grace to permit a sinner to dwell in the Fire of Israel. Rather it is the purpose of Divine grace to forgive our transgressions, whether or not we were under the Law of Moses, and then to enable us to follow the Spirit of God that we may be conformed to the image of Christ. Divine grace never, never, never can operate as an alternative to our moral transformation. God will not dwell with worldliness, lust, or self-will, and that is all there is to that!

Did the thief on the cross walk with Jesus Christ in Paradise?

Of course he did.

Had he been transformed morally?

Most likely not.

How, then, can we say that Divine grace never can serve as an alternative to our moral transformation?

Divine grace never did and never shall serve as an alternative to the moral transformation of the thief who died with Jesus on the cross.

If the thief is to enter the Kingdom of God he must be delivered from all love of the world spirit, the Antichrist spirit. There is no place for Antichrist in the Kingdom of God.

If the thief is to enter the Kingdom of God he must be delivered from all the lusts and passions of the flesh. There is no place for lust or passion in the Kingdom of God.

If the thief is to enter the Kingdom of God he must be delivered from all self- will. No disobedience to the Father ever will be permitted in the Kingdom of God.

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." "Therefore come out from them and be separate," says the Lord. "Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty. (II Corinthians 6:16-18)

The thief could temporarily walk with Christ in Paradise, just as a sinner today can temporarily walk with Christ, meanwhile having access through the atoning blood to the holy place in Heaven. But if thief is to remain without condemnation he must follow the Spirit of God until he becomes a fit companion for Christ. How could it be otherwise?

The Kingdom of God does not consist of walking with Christ in Paradise. The Kingdom of God is found in the growth to maturity of Christ in our inward nature, and then in the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in our transformed inward nature.

If we are not being conformed to the moral image of Christ today, then we ought to be terrified at the thought of the return of Christ with His army of saints. If we are not diligently following the Holy Spirit in the aspect of redemption taking place today, and still are not terrified at the thought of the return of Christ to establish His Kingdom, then we have been deceived by preachers and teachers who do not understand the plan of God.

Those who are being conformed to the image of Christ always view the Day of the Lord as a terrific catastrophe which will be visited on the earth at the return of Jesus Christ and His holy angels.

Several passages of the Old and New Testaments portray the return of Christ with His army of victorious saints.

A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:2)

The above verse is a true vision of the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. The vision is that of a "large and mighty army." That army consists of every saint, from the time of Abel, who has lived a victorious life in Christ.

There is no place in the army of the Lord for any except those whose life Christ is. We can see from this what a horrible illusion is being presented to the nominal churchgoers of today, when they are promised they will be lifted up to Christ at His coming, there to dwell in the delights of Paradise.

When the Lord returns it is those whose life He is who will be raised from the dead, glorified, and then caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air as He returns to fight the Battle of Armageddon. The rest of the dead will not be given back their bodies until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

See, the day of the LORD is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:9-11)

While the above passage refers initially to the destruction of Babylon at the hands of the Medes and Persians, it is clear there will be a fulfillment that goes far beyond the immediate application. The comment concerning the "stars of heaven and their constellations" is referring to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to execute Divine judgment on the evil, the wicked, the haughty, the ruthless.

This is the true vision of the Day of the Lord.

Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 4:3)

Those who have learned to live by the body and blood of Christ will execute Divine judgment on the wicked. These are the kings who will come from the east. This is a true vision of the Day of Christ.

Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. (Habakkuk 3:11)

The above will take place when the Lord returns. Will you be with Him in that Day? You will if you are living in Him right now. Otherwise, you may be the target of His wrath, unless you turn from your sinful ways.

The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)

The attack on the wicked will take place when Jesus returns, not seven years after an unscriptural "rapture," as it taught commonly. There is no scriptural basis whatever for two comings of the Lord divided by a seven-year interval.

Try to find such an illogical period anywhere in the New Testament.

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones To judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 1:14,15)

The context of the above passage will reveal that the "ungodly" are the sinners in the Christian churches. The "sinners in Zion" indeed will be terrified when they behold the true saints coming forth from their graves, shining like the sun, having fellowship for a season, and then rising to meet the Commander in Chief in the air.

Then the wrath of God will fall on the wicked of the earth, including the lukewarm of the churches. In addition to this, the panic-stricken nominal churchgoers will see the Lord, the saints, and the holy angels coming down from the heavens to execute Divine judgment on the ungodly.

This is a true vision of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20)

Satan and all his works will be crushed under the feet of the saints when the Lord returns. The saints are those churchgoers who have denied themselves, have taken up their cross, and patiently follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:30,31)

The above is the beginning of the Battle of Armageddon. His elect are gathered to the Lord in preparation for their descent with Him. They will establish the Kingdom of God on the earth at that time.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (I Thessalonians 4:16-5:3)

The above is a true vision of the Day of the Lord, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. This is the attack of Armageddon.

Notice that when the true saints are raised from the dead, the living saints are transformed (of necessity), and all are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, at that very moment destruction will come on the wicked of the earth.

The emphasis of the above passage is not on the Christians going to Heaven but on the return of the Lord Jesus Christ with His army of saints. His true saints will be caught up to meet Him in the air, and then the wrath of God will fall on the wicked of the earth.

In fact, it is the saints who will administrate the outpouring of the wrath of God on the wicked of the earth.

May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, To inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, To carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 149:6-9)

Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ to the earth?

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you And give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:6-10)

Notice in the above passage that the relief to be given to persecuted saints is not that of being "raptured" in Heaven but of Jesus returning with His powerful angels to punish with everlasting destruction those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel.

This will take place "on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people."

Is the Lord going to return on two separate occasions to be "glorified in his holy people"?

This passage alone completely discredits the current teaching of the "pre-tribulation rapture" of the believers.

It is obvious First and Second Thessalonians are speaking of the same event. To attempt to insert a special coming to take place prior to the coming announced in the first chapter of Second Thessalonians is to depart from every standard of intellectual honesty.

The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue. Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed. (Micah 5:8,9)

This is another description of the army of saints returning with Jesus Christ and establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. (Zechariah 14:5)

The above is referring to the Lord Jesus coming with His saints to deliver Jerusalem from the occupation of Antichrist.

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob." (Romans 11:26)

Finally:

Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the LORD’s. (Obadiah 1:21)

It appears from the Scriptures that the Day of the Lord, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth, will be one of terrific destruction and chaos. The wicked will fight for their possession of the earth, but they will be totally defeated.

The wise believer will spend every moment from this point forward preparing himself or herself to stand in the day of trouble, the day of judgment that the demons fear. All the virgins were believers. All had their lamps, their Bibles. All had the oil of the Holy Spirit.

Some were unwise and did not maintain the Holy Spirit but frittered away their days in the things of the fleshly nature.

When the Lord Jesus returned they were not permitted to go with Him to the wedding, not by grace, mercy, God’s love, or any other consideration.

We Christians need to wake up to the age of moral horrors that is on the horizon, for numerous believers will fall into sin and thus disqualify themselves from being a part of the army of the Lord.

We must without delay put on the whole armor of God, present our body to God as a living sacrifice, deny ourselves, take up our personal cross, and follow the Lamb. If we do not do this, but continue in our "business as usual" church life, then we will never hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Instead we will find ourselves in the outer darkness, or in an even worse situation; that is, if the written Word of God is true.

It indeed is wise to bring Christ into every detail of every day of our life. But the Christian faith essentially is a hope for a glorious yet terrifying future.

I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. (Habakkuk 3:16)

We who are serving the Lord with all our strength ought always to be living with the joyous expectation that today may be the glad day, for the righteous, of His return to the earth as King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

Reserved for Jesus alone

The LORD said to me, "This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered through it. The prince himself is the only one who may sit inside the gateway to eat in the presence of the LORD. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gateway and go out the same way." (Ezekiel 44:2,3)

There is a part of our personality that is reserved for Jesus alone. Sometimes we try to bring other people with us when we come to the Lord. There is nothing wrong, of course, with trying to bring people to the Lord. But there is a point at which the Lord Jesus desires to deal with us as an individual.

We always are to pray for our loved ones and friends and to bring Christ to them to the best of our ability. But when all has been said and done, we must forsake all and cling to Christ.

Some years back there was a stress on "sensitivity training." The idea was to get people to divulge to other members of their group their inmost thoughts and imaginations. The idea was to break down all barriers and reservations.

Christ does not want us to bring people into the core of our being unless He specifically directs us to do so.

Organizations, including religious denominations, sometimes seek to gain control over the inward lives of their members. The Song of Solomon is a description of the plight of the true Bride of the Lamb as she finds herself surrounded by religious people, the people represented by Solomon and the daughters of Jerusalem.

The Lord charges the churches to not pressure His Bride until she of her own will turns her love toward Him.

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. (Song of Solomon 2:7)

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. (Song of Solomon 3:5)

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. (Song of Solomon 8:4)

No doubt the threefold statement is intended to emphasize the Lord’s desire that there be no kind of coercion applied to the heart of the believer until the Holy Spirit has accomplished the necessary wooing.

The Christian churches play a necessary role as they bring the Word of God, worship, and other disciplines to the assembled believers. But the very heart of the believer belongs to Christ alone, not to the church.

The uniquely personal relationship of the believer to the Lamb is not always recognized by the officials of the religion, and the members of the true Bride may suffer at their hands.

The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. They beat me, they bruised me; they took away my cloak, those watchmen of the walls! (Song of Solomon 5:7)

How many times in the history of the world have the officials of organized religion abused those whom the Lord was calling to Himself. Those who are walking in the carnal nature, as often is true of church leaders, will never understand the children of the Spirit. Yet, the Lord uses the church leaders to keep His true Bride in line and free from the deceptions of the devil until such time as Christ has been formed in her. Such discipline is necessary, for the members of the true Bride often behave foolishly and arrogantly until they come to maturity in Christ, just as did the patriarch Joseph.

The day in which we are living may possess some unique characteristics. One such characteristic, certainly, is the desire of Christ to enter His proper place in the center of our personality. There He will sit and worship God with us. If we are wise, wishing to take advantage of what may be an unparalleled opportunity, we will fasten our attention on the Lord Jesus Christ. We will invite Him into our personality at every opportunity. We will pray without ceasing.

There are so many distractions in the American culture! Truly, it is difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. We have to exercise great self- control in bringing all relationships, all circumstances, all things to the Lord constantly. We have to look to Him always until the day arrives when we are coming up out of the wilderness, leaning on our Beloved.

I think numerous American Christians will not receive the reward that could have been theirs, the opportunity for fruitfulness and rulership, simply because the distractions of our day deceived them into neglecting their salvation. I am under the impression such opportunities for fruitfulness and rulership are not recoverable. Once they pass by they are gone forever.

Of special importance is the opportunity to rule with Christ. We are so accustomed to going to Christ in prayer and knowing that He is listening and is bringing our petition to God.

However, in the present hour it may be true that the Kingdom of God is being established in the universe. The Kingdom of God is a structured hierarchy of authority, such as would be found in any kingdom. God is in supreme control. Under God is Jesus Christ. Under Christ is His victorious saints. Under the victorious saints will be multitudes of people who will be ruled by God through Christ through the victorious saints.

"Let no man take your crown," we are warned. This means our place of rulership can be taken by someone who has been more diligent. As in the case of the man who wasted his talent, our talent, our opportunity for rulership, may be taken from us and given to another.

We may be not too concerned over this thought, not being especially ambitious, until we realize the individual who was given our talent now is in charge over us. When we go to pray, in the future, there is that individual who has been given the oversight over us. We may not be pleased with this.

The lesson of this is, make every effort in the present hour to bring the Lord Jesus Christ into your personality. Crave His Presence! Speak often to Him! Look to Him for every decision of life! You will discover in the present hour He is willing to enter your personality in a greater way. He will establish His throne in your heart, and from that place you will govern with Him.

But if you do not do this, if you content yourself with the trappings of the Christian religion, attending church but not following Christ in stern, cross- carrying obedience, you may find in the future that you are being governed by people who were more serious, more diligent in their service to the Lord—perhaps people with whom you are not particularly pleased.

There is a firstfruits to God and the Lamb.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)

The expression "defile themselves with women" has little or nothing to do with human marriage. Rather, it means the firstfruits did not permit any relationship, circumstance, or thing to become attached to their inward nature to the point that it shared the throne of their life with Jesus Christ. This is freedom from idolatry.

The earth will be harvested. There will be a part of the harvest that is more in the image of Christ than is true of the rest. These people are first in the heart of Christ. Why? Because they have sought Him with more diligence that was true of the others.

In our day it is fashionable to reduce all people to a common soup. Satan is pleased with this and takes advantage of it. It is not so in the Kingdom of God. There are all sorts of ranks and rewards. There will be people who are closer to the heart of Jesus Christ than is true of others, simply because they have followed Him with greater diligence. If we do not find ourselves among the firstfruits to God and the Lamb, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

The almighty Christ spoke the universe into existence by the Word of His power. He is able to speak the dust that you are into His image by that same Word of power. The only factor that can prevent your full grasp on that for which you have been grasped is your own unbelief and disobedience.

Make every effort to come to know Jesus as a Person and your best Friend. Numerous believers know only the things of the house of God. They have never met the God of the house of God. Don’t let that be the case with you.

The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (John 10:2,3)

The Lord’s sheep know His voice and they will respond only to Him. In many instances a church congregation contains churchgoers who do not know the Lord that well. They are drawn away from the truth fairly easily by false Christian teachers who are worshipers of their own appetites.

We notice that in the promises to the victorious saints, they always are addressed one at a time.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

There is a need for people today to come to know the God of the house of God. There are numerous believers who are fluent in all aspects of the house of God but who never have had a personal meeting with the God of the house of God. They know all about Jesus Christ but they do not know Jesus Christ for themselves.

The Apostle Paul toward the end of His life was still seeking to know Christ.

I am thinking of young people who have been raised in church. There must come a time in their life when they meet Jesus Christ. This is true also of older people.

Christianity is not really a religion. We may have made it so, but it actually is a personal experience with a Man who once was dead and now is alive.

I remember when as a person ignorant of the Christian salvation I first learned that the Lord Jesus said, "If anyone will do My will he will come to know whether I am speaking from God or out from My own Spirit."

I accepted that challenge and began to do what I thought Christ might want me to do.

Fifty-nine years later I am still doing what I think Christ wants me to do. I must declare in all truthfulness He has convinced me that He speaks from God and not from Himself. While I am a ordained minister in a Pentecostal denomination, I am not really a religious person. My efforts in the ministry are nothing more than a desire to help my Friend in His hour of need. I will be glad when the church business has been completed and I can go to be with Him who has proven to me personally, beyond all doubt, that He indeed is all He claims to be.

Until we are one-on-one with Jesus we may know about the house of God, Bethel, but we do not know the God of the house of God, El Bethel.

God rewards those who serve Him.

"Yet I will put them in charge of the duties of the temple and all the work that is to be done in it. But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood," declares the Sovereign LORD. "They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and perform my service." (Ezekiel 44:14-16)

The sons of Zadok were the only members of the priesthood who were allowed to approach the Lord. This was because in time past they had distinguished themselves by acts of righteousness.

We have emphasized grace so long it is as though any decisions we make for righteousness have no bearing on our standing with the Lord. However, this is not a scriptural attitude.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)

The Bible declares plainly that there is a firstfruits to God and the Lamb. There are believers who are distinguished by their diligent consecration and obedience. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes—now and forever!

This ought to be preached more than it is, I think. We Americans are so afraid of elitism we do not teach the whole counsel of God.

Over and over both Testaments inform us there are rewards for serving the Lord. An overemphasis on grace and mercy has created such a stew that the believers are under the impression no matter what they do, all will receive the same salvation, the same reward. This is not scriptural and removes a proper motivation for zealously seeking the Lord.

"We have left everything! What do we get as a result?"

"You will sit on thrones judging the tribes of Israel."

Perhaps the concept of this unscriptural democratic lumping together of all believers in a common soup is attractive to Americans who originally fled the elitist systems of Europe. Perhaps it appeals to Communists and Socialists. It does not matter. Every Christian will receive back the things he or she has practiced while living on the earth. When Christ returns He will reward us precisely according to our behavior, and there is no "togetherness" of people or human democratic or communistic philosophy that can prevail against the wisdom of God. Some shall shine as the stars forever. Others shall be raised into shame and everlasting disgrace. And there shall be a multitude in between these two extremes.

Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 3:13)

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (I Timothy 4:16)

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (I Timothy 6:18,19)

Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. (II John 1:8)

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:23)

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)

Although we could quote several more verses to show that God indeed does reward Christians according to their works, the passages above should assure the seeker that we indeed lay up treasures for the coming age by behaving righteously.

Today’s emphasis on a sovereignly imposed salvation that operates independently of our response is not found in the New Testament. Rather the New Testament reveals that God’s gift of salvation works through our determined response. When we do not respond diligently by doing what Christ and His Apostles have exhorted, the contract is broken.

Our behavior is as critical in determining our future destiny as is true of God’s gift.

We do not work for our salvation. We do not earn it by adhering to a religious code, such as the Law of Moses. Rather we work it out with fear and trembling. We obey God.

Righteousness comes by obeying God. When God told us to obey the Law of Moses, we were counted righteous when we did what God commanded. When God tells us to put our faith in Christ, we are counted righteous when we do what God is commanding. When God tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus, we are righteous when we do this and unrighteous when we do not, even though we have professed faith in Christ.

Abraham was counted righteous when he believed God’s promise. Abraham was counted righteous when he prepared to sacrifice Isaac. If Abraham had believed God, but then had refused to obey God in the matter of Isaac, he no longer would have been counted righteous and his Seed would not have possessed the gate of his enemies.

I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, Because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws." (Genesis 26:4,5)

Not just because Abraham believed God but because Abraham obeyed God.

Faith brings righteousness when God calls for faith. Obedience brings righteousness when God calls for obedience. The New Testament commands both faith and obedience. When we say we believe, but then do not do what the New Testament commands, we are not counted as righteous but as disobedient children. A lack of diligent obedience indicates a lack of true faith.

Thus it is true that both God’s gift and our diligent response are equally necessary if we are to be brought safely into the new world of righteousness.

The rest of God.

When they enter the gates of the inner court, they are to wear linen clothes; they must not wear any woolen garment while ministering at the gates of the inner court or inside the temple. They are to wear linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments around their waists. They must not wear anything that makes them perspire. (Ezekiel 44:17,18)

To serve the Lord is a blessing. Sometimes we have to work strenuously indeed, but in the midst of this there is a harmony, a dance.

This is not true when we are serving Satan or the man-driven religious organizations. Then it is work! work! work! as we build that which glorifies man.

Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, (Isaiah 8:6)

The Lord’s way is one of peace and joy, the "gently flowing waters of Shiloah." His work is accomplished as we follow Him faithfully, not speaking our own words or performing our own works. We live in the eternal Sabbath, and it is restful and full of health and good fruit.

There is a rest wherein the weary may rest. The rest comes from knowing the Father and Christ rather than merely the way of religion.

To whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"—but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:12)

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)

The rest to which the Lord is referring here has to do with our coming to know the Father.

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)

The Jews rest from their labors and focus their attention on God, especially on Saturday. Under the new covenant we are to cease from our own works and focus on Christ every moment of every day. This is the true and eternal Sabbath rest.

"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13,14)

The Lord Jesus always lives, moves, and has His being in the eternal Sabbath of God.

Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." (John 5:19)

The Lord’s way is one of dwelling, of abiding in Christ. We bear fruit as we abide in Christ, as we rest in the center of His will. The fruit is His moral image borne in us and in those whom we influence.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The Book of Hebrews exhorts Christians to cease from their own works and enter the rest of God, that is, into such oneness with God through Christ that they are flowing with every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. It requires ceaseless warfare to enter the rest of God; for the world, Satan, our fleshly nature, and our stubborn self-will and self-seeking oppose us at every turn.

For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:10)

The rest of God is closely related to obedience on our part. In six days God finished all the works of history through to the coming down of the new Jerusalem through the new sky. Now God is resting. God asks us to enter His rest and just do what He requires instead of working feverishly to create our own heaven and earth.

Each member of God’s elect has two possible destinies. In the Day of the Lord he will be given that part of the Kingdom, that eternal role God has prepared for him or her. Or, he will be given the result of his own unwillingness to submit to God’s will for him. We make this choice every day of our life.

It is our supreme joy when our greatest desire in life is God’s greatest desire and plan for us. There is no greater joy and blessing than this!

The unclean and the clean.

No priest is to drink wine when he enters the inner court. They must not marry widows or divorced women; they may marry only virgins of Israelite descent or widows of priests. They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. (Ezekiel 44:21-23)

Because of the overemphasis on grace, the Christian people have little concept of what is righteous and holy and what is not righteous and not holy. Yet, as we have stated previously, the mark of spiritual growth is the ability to distinguish good from evil and to have the strength and willingness to choose the good and reject the evil.

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14)

We have been at Pentecost, so to speak, throughout the twentieth century. Now it is time to move forward in God. The next move of God is symbolized by the Jewish Day of Atonement. The working out of the Day of Atonement occurs as the Holy Spirit makes us conscious of the sin in our life, and we are willing to confess, denounce, and renounce the sin as vigorously and diligently as we are able.

The witness of the Christian churches has been destroyed because most of the believers are spiritual babies, having little concept of what behavior is acceptable to God and what is not. Yet, the Apostle Paul in several instances described sin clearly.

For I am afraid when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. (II Corinthians 12:20,21)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:3-5)

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)

And notice:

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so we will not be condemned with the world. (I Corinthians 11:31,32)

Why is it that we Christians are so confused concerning what we should do about sin in our life, when the Spirit of God has clearly shown us, in the New Testament, the behaviors we must put to death through the Spirit? We are confused because we have been taught that the Law of Moses has been done away in Christ and now we are under no commandment but "to love Christ and one another." We have not accepted—in fact we are largely ignorant of—what the New Testament states concerning what we are to do about sinful behavior.

One of the main problems in Christian understanding concerns the transition from the Law of Moses to the new covenant. Not understanding that Paul was reacting against the Law of Moses, thinking that by "works" Paul was referring to righteous behavior, we have made the new covenant an alternative to righteous, holy personality and behavior.

It is absolutely true that we do not earn salvation by any kind of good works. Yet, true faith in Christ always results in a change in what we are and how we behave. To decree otherwise, maintaining we are saved by faith alone apart from moral transformation, is to misunderstand what faith is, and to depart from the writings of the Apostles.

The Apostles always stressed righteous behavior, viewing our efforts to do what Christ and His Apostles have commanded as being an expected, necessary aspect of the program of salvation.

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (I Timothy 4:16)

As to the transition from the Law of Moses to the new covenant:

When we receive Christ by faith it is counted that we have fulfilled the Law of Moses perfectly. No observance of any aspect of the Law of Moses is required any longer. We now are without condemnation.

In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)

The new covenant does not include the feast days, the Sabbath, the dietary laws, or any other feature of the Law of Moses. None of these is anything more than a shadow of the salvation that comes from Christ and, in fact, is Christ.

The Law of Moses was given twelve hundred or so years before Christ was born. The purpose of the Law was to curb sin until the Redeemer appeared. The Law, particularly the Ten Commandments, keeps reminding us of our sinful nature so we will come to Christ and be delivered.

The new covenant requires that we follow the Spirit of God at all times.

As we pray, read our Bible, fellowship with the saints, give, serve, do all else enjoined on us by Christ and His Apostles, the Spirit of God leads us one step at a time into the overthrowing of the spirit of the world in us, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-will. Each day the Spirit helps us gain victory over our sinful nature.

In the meanwhile Christ is being formed in us. As Christ is formed in us, the Father and Christ come to dwell in us through the Holy Spirit.

This is the new covenant. It is the writing of Christ, the eternal Law of God, in our mind and in our heart.

To then return to some aspect of the Law of Moses requires that we remove our eyes from faith in Christ and attempt to gain righteousness by not eating pork, or by refusing to work on Saturday, or by sacrificing a lamb and observing the Passover. None of this is necessary. It only brings confusion into the righteousness that is ascribed to us when we look to Jesus Christ and follow the Holy Spirit.

And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Philippians 3:9)

The new creation that results from the destruction of the works of Satan from our personality, the forming of Christ in us, and the dwelling of the Father and the Son in us, is the Kingdom of God. It is redemption. It is salvation. It is perfect righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. To attempt to stick some fleshly observance onto the perfect Divine salvation is loss for Christ and loss for us. It will serve only to prevent us from entering perfect rest in the center of God's will.

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)

The members of the royal priesthood must be able to judge between that which is unclean and that which is clean; that which is unrighteous and that which is righteous; that which pleases God and that which does not please God. Such judgment is a major aspect of their role.

In any dispute, the priests are to serve as judges and decide it according to my ordinances. They are to keep my laws and my decrees for all my appointed feasts, and they are to keep my Sabbaths holy. (Ezekiel 44:24)

The Christian believers of our day have little understanding of Divine judgment. They have not experienced Divine judgment in their own lives, in many instances, and certainly are not prepared to judge the world.

Yet, the Lord Jesus is a judge. He told the twelve who followed Him that they would sit on thrones judging the tribes of Israel.

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)

And notice:

Do you not know the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (I Corinthians 6:2,3)

Serving as a judge over mankind and the angels is one of the primary responsibilities of God’s elect. Yet we are neither qualified nor competent to judge God’s creatures until we ourselves have been judged, are in the moral image of Jesus Christ, and are dwelling in untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will.

Only those who live victoriously in Christ will sit on the thrones of judgment, the thrones that will govern mankind on the earth. These are the members of the holy priesthood. They will be raised from the dead when the Lord appears from Heaven.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

It is of the greatest importance that we do not judge according to what we think we are seeing and hearing, especially when we have heard only one side of a controversy. It is a mark of Christian maturity when we are very slow to judge, and then only after we have heard clearly from the Lord.

Some issues are to be left unresolved until the Lord comes and reveals all things. The Lord Jesus will guide us in judgment if we will cease from our own imaginations and wait until we know what He is saying about the matter.

The Lord Jesus did not judge according to His own thoughts but only according to what He was hearing from the Father.

By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. (John 5:30)

We cannot possibly judge with righteous judgment until we are living in the place where we are hearing from the Lord continually. Every decision must be brought to Him. Otherwise we are judging according to what we are seeing and hearing according to our fleshly knowledge and wisdom. This the Lord Jesus does not do.

The ability to discern between good and evil, and then diligently embrace the good and renounce the evil, is a mark of Christian maturity.

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14)

When the Lord returns, judgment will be given to the saints; and it is they who will bring the wrath of God against all sin and rebellion. It is the saints, working alongside the Lord Jesus and through the Lord Jesus, who will install the Kingdom of God on the earth.

May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, To inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, To carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 149:6-9)

Until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:22)

Our inheritance as coheirs with Jesus Christ

I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession. (Ezekiel 44:28)

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: if the prince makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his sons, it will also belong to his descendants; it is to be their property by inheritance. (Ezekiel 46:16)

The higher our calling in God the more it becomes true that He Himself is our major inheritance.

As coheirs of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall inherit God Himself, eternal life in the age to come, the nations of the earth, the farthest reaches of the earth itself, Paradise, and all else of the new creation.

God Himself.

Eternal life in the age to come.

The nations of the earth.

The farthest reaches of the earth itself.

Paradise.

All else of the new creation.

As to inheriting God Himself:

Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)

God Himself is the chief Inheritance of those who really love God, and not just the things that are given to them from God. They shall be pillars in His temple and never leave His Presence. Even though they are His chariots performing His will throughout the universe, they never leave His Presence. He always is with them and they always are with Him.

Other people will inherit the works of God’s hands, to a greater or lesser extent. But God’s firstfruits from among His elect will inherit God Himself. This is the greatest inheritance of all.

As to inheriting eternal life in the age to come:

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel Will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:29,30)

We usually think of eternal life as something we receive when we make a profession of Christ, and from that point forward we shall live forever.

Eternal life does not refer to duration of existence but to the Presence of God, and His Life given to us.

When we first receive Christ we pass from death unto life. Then each day we are to lay hold on life, for eternal death always is striving for mastery over us. Each day of his discipleship on earth the Christian must contend for eternal life, sowing to the Spirit of God. If he sows to the Spirit of God, obeying the Spirit as the Spirit leads him in the will of Christ, he or she will reap an abundance of eternal life in the Day of the Lord—eternal life that will make his resurrected body immortal.

But if the Christian does not sow to the Spirit of God, but chooses instead to obey the instincts of his sinful nature, then out from that sinful nature he will inherit spiritual and bodily destruction in the Day of the Lord.

As to inheriting the nations of the earth:

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:3)

Our Christian mythology has us inheriting a mansion and acres of diamonds in Heaven. This is nonsense. The only inheritance worth having, after that of God Himself, is people.

Christ’s inheritance is people. Would He have any other? We are coheirs with Him!

We do not appreciate the value of having people for an inheritance until we grow to the place where we can experience the love of Christ for people.

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, May have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

When we come to know love of Christ for people, then we understand all talk about mansions, gold, and diamonds is folly.

The only truly important value in the universe is love for God and love for people.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21:24-26)

The passage above portrays the nations of saved peoples of the earth coming to the glorified Church in order to receive eternal life, healing, and all the other benefits that come from the blessing of God. These benefits will be administered from God through Christ through the saints.

As to inheriting the earth itself:

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalms 2:8)

Whenever people attempt to describe Heaven they usually portray an earth minus the curse. They speak of grass, flowers, trees, fountains, and so forth. This is because our home is the earth. Mankind came into being in Paradise on the earth, and it is in man’s heart to return to Paradise on the earth.

He thinks he wants to go to Heaven where the angels are, but this is because he has never been in Heaven. Man wants love, joy, and peace; but he wants them in a familiar environment.

Satan knows that the earth is a better environment than is true of Heaven, and that is why he spends his time here rather than "enjoying" himself in the spirit realm.

The physical realm is a more enjoyable realm than the spirit realm. God never moves from the greater to the lesser. The Kingdom of God is Heaven clothed with the physical realm. It is the best of Heaven and the best of earth. This is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is His victorious saints when they have been raised from the dead and glorified.

Heaven as such is not our inheritance. The meek, the teachable, shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

As to inheriting Paradise:

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)

Paradise will return to the earth at the hands of the sons of God. The curse will be lifted. The physical realm will be released from its bondage to decay.

Paradise will not come down from Heaven except in the form of the saints. It is the saints who will bring Paradise back to the earth. It will come from their redeemed personalities.

Paradise never again will be lost because it will be governed by the saints through whom it has come to the earth.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. (Isaiah 65:25)

And as to inheriting all else of the new creation:

So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, And you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (I Corinthians 3:21-23)

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)

The above is a marvelous promise!

Notice that the new age is given as an inheritance, not as a gift. By this I mean it is given to the people to whom it belongs by right, not as an arbitrary gift that can be given to anyone outside the family.

Notice also that the recipients are limited to the individuals who overcome.

To overcome is to gain victory through Christ over worldliness, over the passions of our flesh, and—most significantly—over our self-will and personal ambitions.

As one looks about it appears not too many believers are actually gaining victory to the extent we could wish. In fact, it often has been taught in Christian circles, that as long as we are in this world we have to sin. Not only is this an unscriptural position, it leads to a defeatist attitude.

If someone is informed he already has lost the war he is not going to fight with much hope of victory.

The truth is, the New Testament clearly promises us victory over all worldliness, over all of the passions of our flesh, and over our self-will and disobedience to God.

There is no sin that we cannot overcome through the wisdom and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of course, we do not overcome sin in a moment. Each day we are brought to a new area of spiritual uncleanness in our personality, and each day we are given Divine grace so we can confess, denounce, and renounce the particular area of darkness. Meanwhile we keep drawing near to God and resisting the devil.

If it were impossible to overcome, then Christ would not have offered the rewards, mentioned in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, to the overcomer.

We can live in perfect victory each day if we will follow the Spirit of God. He who thus overcomes all that comes against him will inherit all that is mentioned in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation. God will be his God. He will be God’s son.

The Lord Jesus Christ has inherited all that His Father is and all that His Father has created through Him. Christ has chosen to share His inheritance with His brothers.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,~ and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17)

It is obvious Christ will never share His inheritance with those who are spiritually weak. "He will divide the spoils with the strong."

There are other sons, in addition to the greater Son, who will inherit the Glory of God.

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10)

There is a promise which, in terms of authority, is greater than all others. It reveals the extent to which the Lord Jesus Christ is ready to share His inheritance with His brothers.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

Christian believers are taught they are going to rule with Christ and inherit all sorts of things. However, the New Testament states that the promises we ordinarily associate with being a Christian are reserved for the believer who overcomes the enemies and obstacles that come against him.

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)

It is a deceived teacher who promises the rewards assigned to the overcomer to the weak, worldly, self-centered Christians in America. Perhaps most of them will be saved but be greatly impoverished by fiery judgments, entering the Kingdom of God as naked spirits. Unless God in His goodness sends great trouble on America, the present generation of Christians will enter eternity without significant rewards.

Our hope is for the younger people—that they will turn from the materialism of the adult Christians and seek the Lord with a whole heart.

Such is our inheritance:

God Himself.

Eternal life in the age to come.

The nations of the earth.

The farthest reaches of the earth itself.

Paradise.

All else of the new creation.

Remember, God from the foundation of the world appointed a wonderful place for you in His Kingdom. Whether or not you actually receive that inheritance depends on your willingness to forsake all and follow the Lamb wherever He takes you.

Honesty.

You are to use accurate scales, an accurate ephah~ and an accurate bath.~ (Ezekiel 45:10)

The Lord Jesus Christ is absolutely honest. To be in His inward image we must be absolutely honest in our heart. Several times in the Old Testament the Lord exhorts His people to deal honestly in business.

Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. (Leviticus 19:36)

For the LORD your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly. (Deuteronomy 25:16)

Sometimes believers in America deal dishonestly in business, supposing the Lord overlooks their lying. But He does not. There shall be no dishonest people in the Kingdom of God, not by mercy, grace, or any other means. If we would serve as a priest of the God of Heaven we must be as honest as Jesus is. We must reveal His Character in our own personality if we are to serve as the light of the world.

Notice that the victorious saints are characterized by the fact that they do not speak lies. Honesty and truthfulness are closely related. Combined with faithfulness they compose what we term integrity.

No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5)

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Ephesians 4:25)

We are finding in the United States today a lack of integrity, even among church leaders and people. God will never bless a nation or a church that is lacking in integrity, no matter how we seem to be prospering at the present moment.

A believer in Christ will not make a success of his discipleship if he does not have an honest and good heart to begin with. His lack of integrity and his willingness to take the easy way out of difficulties will ultimately destroy any possibility of his being useful in the Kingdom of God.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15)

The Ten Commandments do not state: "You shall not lie." They restrict themselves to, "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." Bearing false witness is the only form of lying included in the Ten Commandments.

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)

"Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, (Matthew 19:18)

Lying is dealt with in another place.

Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another. (Leviticus 19:11).

The absence of "You shall not lie," in the Ten Commandments, may indicate God, in the Commandments, deals with the symptoms of a false nature rather than with the nature itself. A false nature, a lying nature, gives rise to the symptoms set forth in the Ten Commandments. Therefore, "You shall not lie" is not mentioned as a separate sin.

For example, worshiping other gods, misusing God’s name, murder, adultery, stealing, coveting—all proceed from a false nature, a lying nature. The upright, forthright individual does not worship idols, misuse God’s name, commit murder or adultery, steal, covet, or bear false witness. All of these behaviors are symptomatic of a nature lacking in integrity. It is true that a person may be profane in his speech and worship a false god, and yet be honest. Nevertheless there remains a basic lie in his personality.

Satan is the lie personified while the Lord Jesus Christ is truth personified.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

Truth is not a description of where something is located or how much it weighs. Truth is not found in numbers. Truth is that which is of the living God and is God. No individual abides in the truth who is not abiding in Christ.

Truth is that which God sees as desirable and of His own Nature, and thus is closely associated with righteousness.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

The Father in Heaven is pure and perfect in truth and righteousness. He is as a great Light who does not cast a shadow by turning. He always is there, the same, unchangeable, perfect, dependable. How wonderful to become an integral part of the great Transparency!

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (John 3:20,21)

For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men. (II Corinthians 8:21)

Let us always live by the truth and run to the Light. This will be a testimony for the unsaved to see, and may cause them to glorify God.

The water of life.

The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. (Ezekiel 47:1)

Notice that the Glory of God faces the east, looking toward the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishing of the Day of the Lord.

Now we come to God’s purpose for creating us outwardly and inwardly in the image of Christ. God’s purpose is that we be filled with the Spirit of God, finally becoming a river of life and a tree of life whereby the nations of saved peoples of the earth may partake of the Life of God.

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)

The reason God deals so strenuously with us is that He is transforming us from a living being to a life-giving spirit. Also, God is creating in us a great wall against sin and a rod of iron so when Christ through us has brought Paradise back to the earth, Paradise will be protected and maintained by that rod and wall. Because of such tremendous change in our personality we must, twenty-four hours of every day, seven days of every week, diligently attend to what Christ is doing in us.

The water of life always flows from the Throne of God. When the Throne of God has been established in us, then the water of life will flow from us into the dead sea of mankind.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

When we are faithful in keeping the words of Christ and His Apostles, Christ and the Father come to us and make us Their eternal abode, Their throne.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

Then the eternal life will flow from our personality.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1)

Out from our inward being will flow rivers of living water.

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37,38)

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)

The Holy Spirit and the Bride of the Lamb always are inviting whoever will to come and partake freely of the eternal Life of the living God.

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)

Not just the Spirit, but the Spirit and the Bride invite the peoples of the earth to receive without cost the water of eternal, incorruptible resurrection life.

Notice, in the following verse, that the blessing given to Abraham was the Holy Spirit.

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:14)

We of the Church have the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit. When we are revealed with the Lord Jesus, at His coming, the Holy Spirit will be given through us to those of the nations whom God has saved from destruction.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

But how do we gain enough of the Holy Spirit so we can bring the Life of God to other people, now, and when the Lord returns?

First, in order to receive more of the Holy Spirit we must be sternly obedient to God.

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32)

Next, if we are to receive more of the Holy Spirit so we can bring eternal life to other people, we must sow to the Spirit. This means we must choose each day to follow the Spirit instead of our own natural desires.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)

Sowing to the Holy Spirit is important today if we are to be able to bring life to other people. But in the Day of the Lord, if we have sown to please our sinful nature, we will reap destruction from the very sinful nature we have cultivated. Then we will be of no use whatever in the work of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth, in bringing the Life of God to the people whom God has spared from destruction.

We must obey God if we are to have more of the Spirit. We must sow to the will of the Spirit each day if we are to reap eternal life for ourselves and others.

Then, we are to pray persistently to God for more of the Holy Spirit that we may have enough to share with other people.

So I say to you: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:9-13)

There are only two ways in which a human being can live. One is in the life of the sinful nature. The other is in the life of the Spirit of God.

When we are living in the sinful nature, whether or not we have professed faith in Christ, we are living in death. Our body is dead because of sin. But our inward nature is showing signs of life as we put to death, through the Spirit, the deeds of our flesh.

If we are successful in overcoming the temptations of our sinful nature, we will attain an inward resurrection to eternal life. Then, in the day of the Lord, that same life of God will fill and thus redeem our mortal body.

Now we are a tree of life from which other people can gain the Spirit of God for themselves. Then they too will be free from the bondages of the sinful nature and will experience the glorious freedom of the children of God.

The north gate.

He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side. (Ezekiel 47:2)

The north, east, and south are mentioned. The west is not mentioned because west symbolizes the end of the day. Since the day God is pointing toward has no end, the west is omitted.

God always brings His trees "through the north gate," through the icy blasts of adversity. But the water flows "from the south side," that is, from the place of renewal and refreshing.

After we have been saved and filled with the Spirit of God—sometimes a long time after—God addresses Himself to the worldliness, lust, and self-will that reside in our personality. After having served the Lord over fifty years it has been my observation that not all people go through this experience of the north gate, at least not in this life. Who knows what happens in the next?

I think the experience of the north gate may have to do with our passing from the ranks of the called to the company of the chosen. Remember the Lord said, "many are called but few chosen." This statement was made in the context of the guest who was not suitably attired at the wedding.

Numerous believers have been called to the salvation experience but they still are not dressed for the wedding. God exposes such to the north gate, to various afflictions and tribulations, in order to strip away the filthy garments of the flesh and soul.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. (Psalms 119:67)

We know God chastens every son He receives. And you have forgotten word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Hebrews 12:5,6)

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

The members of the Church are going to be disciplined severely in the days to come. This is because the return of the Lord and the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth is at hand. In order to be raised when the Lord appears and assist in the installation of the Kingdom we must have every trace of sin and disobedience removed from us. Such preparation for rulership is beginning to occur in the present hour.

When the chastening comes it is as a north wind. Yet, it is during the "nighttimes" of our experience that we gain the knowledge of the Lord.

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. (Psalms 19:2)

We may do a lot of talking during the "day," that is, when we are feeling optimistic and buoyant. But it is during the "night" that we grow in the knowledge of the Lord.

Sometimes we gain the impression that once we become a Christian we will have no more problems. While it is absolutely true that Christ forgives us when we come to Him, and we are to stand resolutely in the assurance of His forgiveness, it also is true that He chastens us that we might partake of His holiness. We receive "double for all our sins."

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1,2)

When we suffer we stop sinning. In this manner we are saved by fiery trials. The fiery trials are judgments that lead to our salvation. Even the righteous are saved with difficulty. The difficulty lies in the fact that we are required to remain in the Lord’s prison (He permits Satan to place us there) until we have been brought down to the death of the cross. Only when we have been faithful to the point where we have died the death to our own wisdom and strength are we qualified to receive the crown of life, the authority to govern through the abilities proceeding from endless, incorruptible Divine Life.

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:16,17)

If at the present time you are amazed at the dark tunnels you are experiencing, take comfort in the fact that the Lord has not left you. He will return, to your joy. You will discover you have lost nothing of eternal value. Only your bondages have been burned.

In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. (Isaiah 12:1)

Notice in the following passage that our sufferings are Divine judgment on us that we may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God. This may be a new thought to some, but it is an integral aspect of the program of redemption from slavery to sin.

Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:4,5)

And again:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)

We can spare ourselves some of the pain of the north gate by judging ourselves and turning away from our sin. When we do not do this the Lord judges and disciplines us because He does not want us to be a part of the sinful behavior of the people of the world.

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so we will not be condemned with the world. (I Corinthians 11:31,32)

When we are going through dark places with the Lord we must keep in mind that we are in a tunnel, not in a grave. There will be light at the end. Always remember that: there will be light at the end! God is faithful. He has been with you in the fire and only your bondages will be destroyed. You can depend on this! Christ is not only the trustworthy Beginning, He also is the trustworthy Conclusion of the work of salvation in your life.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (I Peter 5:10)

When we see God permitting Satan to sift a brother we must pray for him that his faith does not fail. Christ did not pray that God would remove Peter from the sifting but that Peter would have faith enough to endure the testing.

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31,32)

Once we have been through the fire with God we will able to strengthen our brothers and sisters in the Lord. The willingness to strengthen our brothers and sisters reflects an inner conversion from our former desire to rule over them. The fire of Divine judgment accomplishes this conversion in us.

"For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:7,8)

For a season God seemed to withdraw as He attacked His enemies in us. Now He has returned to us, as He did to Job, and we know God for ourselves. Other happy believers may be laughing and playing in the Presence of the Lamb. But we have met the Consuming Fire of Israel and our name has been changed from the supplanter to he who struggles with God.

Growing in the Spirit.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. (Ezekiel 47:3-5)

The four levels of the river speak of four deaths and four resurrections. The fourth level, that of water to swim in, refers to the fullness of God—that toward which we are to press once we have gone through the first three deaths and three resurrections.

The four deaths are four judgments on our personality, and the four resurrections are increments of growth in the image of Christ and increments of immersion in the Spirit of Christ.

The measuring line speaks of judgment. God is always judging, always testing us to determine our progress in His image and His rest, the rest which is His perfect will and Person.

Death to the world, and resurrection into the Kingdom of God.

Death to sin, and resurrection to life lived in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.

Death to our own will and strength, and resurrection to fruitfulness and to the power to exercise our Christ-filled will.

Death to all desire to be exalted, and resurrection to perfect love and to joy in simply being the chariot of God.

Death to the world, and resurrection into the Kingdom of God. The water ankle-deep refers to our beginning in the Life of God, that is, to the beginning of the program of salvation as it works out in us. Here we have death to the world and its ways, and resurrection into citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. (I John 2:15,16)

We are not to find our survival and security in the world spirit, the Antichrist spirit. The world spirit finds its power in money and its wisdom in education and in the occult. The world is a source of evil, and we have been called out of it.

It is impossible to find our citizenship in the Kingdom of God when we are immersed in the world and its ways.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

As the electronic communication devices increase, so does the conforming of our mind to the pattern of the present world if we do not make the effort to seek God each day. The true Christian turns away from unnecessary involvement in the world, its money, and its education. He finds power and wisdom in prayer and in meditating in the Scriptures.

We are to make the decision whether to be part of the world or part of the Kingdom of God.

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." (Luke 9:23,24)

We must make the effort to turn away from the world. God will help us if we pray and meditate in the Scriptures, assembling as often as we can with fervent disciples.

A true Christian thinks, speaks, acts, and looks like a child of God. He or she does not think, speak, act, or look like the world. There are practical steps we can take each day to think, speak, act, and look like a Christian, and the Lord will assist us as He beholds our determined effort.

Our first step, then, in attaining the moral image of Christ and the fullness of God’s Spirit and Presence, is that of turning away from the world and all of its vaunted survival and security. This step brings us into the Kingdom of God.

Death to sin, and resurrection to life lived in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit. The knee-deep water reminds us of the Pentecostal experience. We have the Spirit but the Spirit does not as yet have us. We still can turn and churn our way back to the shore.

The second death is death to sin. The second resurrection is life lived in freedom from the chains of sin and also in the power to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The New Testament teaches us clearly that we are to follow the Holy Spirit into deliverance from sin.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)

Once we have entered the Kingdom of God by repenting of our worldly ways, by receiving the blood atonement by faith, and by being baptized in water, we are to follow the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God always leads us in the program of putting to death the acts of our sinful nature.

It never is God’s will that a Christian walk in known sin. We are forgiven through the blood atonement of sins of which we are not aware. Once the Holy Spirit points out a sin in our life we are to confess, denounce, and renounce it with all the vigor we possess. Then we are to draw near to God and resist the devil.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16)

Life lived in victory over sin is waters to the knees. As we confess and renounce our sins, through the Spirit, we become more in the image of Jesus Christ and more at rest in God’s Presence and Spirit.

As we make the effort to turn away from sin we must keep coming to the Mercy Seat that we may receive wisdom and strength. Only the power of Christ can enable us to overcome the sins and passions of our sinful nature.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so you obey its evil desires. (Romans 6:12)

We are not to be careless about the sin that is revealed to us. We are to be totally diligent in putting it away. The reason the Jews to this very day are having problems about occupying their land is that they were not diligent in overcoming all the enemies in Canaan. Because they did not utterly destroy the Canaanites, they soon were worshiping the Canaanite idols. As a result they lost their land 2500 years ago and still have not been able to get it all back or even to hold what they do have.

The Jews are a lesson to us about the result of not being diligent in obeying God when He commands us to put sin to death through the Holy Spirit.

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. (I John 3:6,7)

We have been "graced" to death. Today’s emphasis on imputed or ascribed righteousness (instead of on the actual practice of righteous behavior) is far out of proportion to its emphasis in the New Testament. The moral character of the Christian churches has been destroyed as a result.

Water to the knees represents death to sin and entrance into life lived in the Spirit of God. It is up to us to press forward to this increase in the image of Christ and to find rest in the Spirit and Presence of God.

Death to our own will and strength, and resurrection to fruitfulness and to the power to exercise our Christ-filled will. The water to the waist portrays an aspect of redemption past the familiar Pentecostal experience. The area of the waist and hips is the center of man’s reproductive power and strength, the power to bear fruit and the power to exercise his Christ-filled will. This is where God is calling us now.

The third level speaks of death to our self-will, and death to our strength to exert our own will. It is a crossing of the Jordan onto resurrection ground. The Lord keeps us in tribulation and in various prisons until our self-will and strength are broken, and it no longer is we who are living but Christ who is living in us.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)

We must remain in our place of confinement until we die to our own will and strength. Only then are we qualified to govern with Christ.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so Christ’s power may rest on me. (II Corinthians 12:9)

Notice also, in connection with being glorified with Christ and ruling with Him, the role of suffering:

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17)

If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; (II Timothy 2:12)

After all that the Apostle Paul had suffered and endured it seems excessive that he would have an additional affliction to contend with. But Paul was called to bear tremendous fruit and so it was necessary his natural strength and desires be controlled very closely. Such will be true of us also if we are called to bear enormous fruit, to exercise power and authority.

Even the Lord Jesus had to be brought to the place where He submitted to the Father’s will instead of obeying His own will.

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42)

It is only as we are willing to die in the Lord that we can bear much fruit.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)

Resurrection life can come to other people only through our association with the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ.

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (II Corinthians 4:11,12)

If we are to live and minister as the Lord Jesus would have us do, we must accept the fact that we have been crucified with Christ and are to live with the sentence of death in ourselves.

Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (II Corinthians 1:9)

How many Pentecostal people will be willing to lay down their life that God’s will may be done? Many, we can hope. But until we do this we cannot possibly come into the area of fruitfulness and conquest God has in mind for us.

Every Christian has been chosen by the Lord for the purpose of bearing fruit. The fruit we bear is the image of Christ in ourselves and in others.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 15:16)

We think of the Apostle Paul, and of Christ Himself. They were brought down to weakness. Yet the fruit that has come from them has been beyond our ability to grasp. So it will be true of us if we are willing to die in the Lord.

The reason Abraham’s Seed is still multiplying is that he was willing to sacrifice Isaac. If Abraham had been unwilling to offer Isaac, at the command of the Lord, Abraham and Isaac would have grown old and died without being the ancestors of Israel.

Vines do not bear fruit of themselves. Fruit grows on the branches. The Christian saints are branches from the one great Vine. It is God’s will that His Israel, His elect, blossom and bud, and fill the earth with fruit, the fruit of the image of Christ.

We Christians are to show forth righteousness and praise in the sight of the nations of the earth.

People will not glorify God until they see good works, the works of righteousness, proceeding from a Church in which Christ has been formed.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Of all the inhabitants of Heaven, the Father chose Christ and anointed Him with the oil of gladness. The Father did this because Christ loves righteousness and hates wickedness.

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. (Psalms 45:7)

God is so pleased with Christ and His love of righteousness that He has decided to multiply Christ. By this means God will fill His creation with people who love righteousness and hate wickedness. Until we are filled with Christ and doing His will we are not accomplishing God’s purpose in choosing us.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. (Isaiah 61:11-62:2)

We are of no use to the nations as a tree of life until we no longer are living according to our own will but according to the will of God in Christ.

Water to the ankles—death to the world and resurrection into the Kingdom of God. This is the first step in conformation to the image of Christ and entrance into the Spirit and Presence of God.

Water to the knees—death to sin and entrance into life lived in the freedom and power of the Spirit of God. This is the second step in conformation to the image of Christ and entrance into the Spirit and Presence of God.

Water to the hips—This is the third step in conformation to the image of Christ and entrance into the Spirit and Presence of God.

The first three levels of water finish the work of redemption in us. The work of redemption is that of moving us from the person and image of Satan to the person and image of God.

After we have been redeemed fully, after we have died to the world, to sin, and finally to self-will, and Christ has been formed in us, we are ready to be filled with all the fullness of God. We have chosen to be abandoned to God and to His Spirit. We are becoming the chariot of God. We then shall be the very Throne of God.

The fourth level is as a river that cannot be crossed. This means after we have been redeemed we can press into the Spirit of God forever. There is no limit. It seems we shall keep on growing into the image of Christ forever. It may be true also that God and Christ will be growing forever (and they certainly will be growing in us!) until the Scripture is fulfilled:

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)

Death to all desire to be exalted, and resurrection to perfect love and to joy in simply being the chariot of God. To be filled with all the fullness of God is our goal. But is such a goal scriptural?

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)

If we did not have scriptural support for such a promise we would not believe it possible

Yet, the gifts and ministries given by the ascended Christ are for the purpose of bringing us to the fullness of Christ.

Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

To be filled with all the fullness of God would be to be filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Is this possible?

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16,17)

The Apostle Paul was pressing toward the fullness of God. He termed such fullness "the resurrection from the dead."

And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)

Water to the ankles, water to the knees, water to the hips, and finally water to swim in. This means we are immersed in the Spirit of God until our feet no longer can touch the "earth," the old life of the flesh.

Since the Body of Christ is one organism in the sight of God, it is only as righteous as the member who is least righteous; it is only as holy as the member who is least holy; it is only as obedient to the Father as the member who is least obedient to the Father. Therefore each member must be brought to iron righteousness, fiery holiness, to stern obedience to God—to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

How wonderful to be abandoned to God! God keeps inviting us forward until finally we realize the flesh profits nothing. We understand any aspect of our person or behavior that is not wrought in Jesus Christ is loss for Christ and loss for us. The flesh is unprofitable. All that is of eternal worth comes from Christ. The wise among us will forget what is behind and reach forward to the fullness of God.

We must be willing to live in the power of His resurrection and to share in His sufferings. The Holy Spirit is ready to bring each saint into such a manner of life, but we have to go through a step at time.

The goal of the true saint is to be conformed to the image of Christ and to live always in the fullness of the Presence and Spirit of God.

After we have pressed forward in the plan of redemption and have attained untroubled rest in the Father’s will, it still is necessary every spirit of exaltation be removed from us. We must be content to be filled with God’s love toward other people, forgetting our own accomplishments.

This was true of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, But made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, (Philippians 2:4-9)

To truly be in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ we always must count our membership in the royal priesthood as not being a rank to be grasped, never exalting ourselves, always being ready to take the lowliest place of service to God and mankind.

Death to the world, and resurrection into the Kingdom of God.

Death to sin, and resurrection to life lived in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.

Death to our own will and strength, and resurrection to fruitfulness and to the power to exercise our Christ-filled will.

Death to all desire to be exalted, and resurrection to perfect love and to joy in simply being the chariot of God.

Back to the place of service.

He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?" Then he led me back to the bank of the river. (Ezekiel 47:6)

Now we come to the purpose of going through the four great steps of redemption. It is that we may be able to serve as a member of the royal priesthood.

Our purpose of going through the four depths of the river of life is to prepare us to serve the nations as priests of God through Jesus Christ, as we have just stated. In order to understand this concept we must abandon the idea that the purpose of "getting saved" is to go to Heaven. The purpose of getting saved, which in the current understanding means going as far as water to the ankles, is to authorize us to proceed through the remaining three levels of the Holy Spirit. Our goal is not to go to Heaven, it is to serve God as a member of the royal priesthood.

We are being redeemed. This means through Jesus Christ we are gaining back what was lost in the beginning.

What was lost in the beginning was Divine Life, not residence in Heaven. God warned Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed they would die, not that they would not go to Heaven or that they would go to Hell.

The Lord Jesus did not come so we would die and go to Heaven but to give us eternal life, that is, to restore to us what was lost in Eden; first in our inward nature, and then, at His return, in our body.

By bringing us through the four depths of the Holy Spirit, God is making us trees of life so we can restore eternal life to the peoples of the earth. We Christians have a firstfruits of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of God that one day will fill the earth.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

People can live in only one source of wisdom and power, either in the fleshly nature, which is sinful, or in the Holy Spirit. It is not the will of God that any saved human being live in the sinful, fleshly nature, the nature that has proceeded from the spiritually dead Adam and Eve.

God has given to Jesus Christ and His Body, His Church, the blessing of Abraham, that is, the Holy Spirit. However, it is not enough that the Church have only a portion of the Spirit. The Church is the "firstborn" of mankind. Therefore the Church is given a double portion of the Spirit so through the Church God’s eternal life may be restored to the remainder of mankind. This is our role, the role of the royal priesthood.

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:18)

Now you can see why we must cease from our unscriptural notion that God is forgiving the members of the Church so they can go and live forever in the spirit Paradise, in Heaven. It is true rather that God is dealing continually with every member of the Body of Christ in order to make us trees of life. We can bring life to people now. In the future we will return with the Lord Jesus Christ and bring eternal life to the dead creation. It is for this purpose that we will be revealed with Jesus Christ when He returns.

We must revise our concept of the Christian salvation. We are placing almost all of our emphasis on the first step, water to the ankles, the entrance into the program of salvation. We are doing this because we believe "getting saved" means we have become eligible, by means of a profession of belief in Christ, to enter Heaven when we die.

This is all wrong! God did not call the members of the Church out of the world to go to Heaven, He called each of us to be a tree of life, ready to work alongside the Spirit of God in bringing eternal life to the saved peoples of the earth.

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)

Both the Spirit and the Bride of the Lamb invite whoever will to come and receive eternal life, the eternal life that always flows from the Throne of God established in the members of the Bride, of the royal priesthood.

In order to work alongside the Spirit of God in bringing the water of life to saved mankind we must go through all four steps of salvation, not stopping at water to the ankles and then rushing off to Heaven. Can you see why this is true? More attention must be paid today to bringing the saints to maturity. Otherwise the members of the nations have no source of eternal life.

We Christians have a Divine calling resting on us. It is exactly the same calling that rested on the Jews when they were brought out of Egypt.

The calling to the Jews:

And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6)

The calling to us:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9)

Our calling as saints is not merely to flee to Heaven, it is to serve mankind as the priests of God.

And has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:6)

And again:

And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:9,10)

It is only when God puts the love of Christ in us that we become aware our inheritance is not limited to mansions and golden slippers but consists of people. There is no greater joy than bringing forth the water of life from our personality so others may enjoy the Holy Spirit of God. Isn’t this true?

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, May have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

We have to be strengthened in our inner being by moving through the four aspects of redemption until we are able to receive the love of Christ that is extended toward people.

Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:12)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2,3)

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37,38)

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)

We understand, therefore, that we saints are being made life-giving spirits.

No member of God’s elect will ever find perfect rest and fulfillment until he or she is serving as the Presence of God for other people.

Can we see and understand God’s will for us today? We are in the greatest hour of all—even greater than when Christ walked in the streets of Jerusalem. For now we are nearing the desire of the heart of Christ—that He be multiplied again and again in the personalities of His saints and then through them in the countless multitudes of the earth whom God desires to save into His Kingdom.

Ours is a time of awesome opportunity and awesome danger. For out of today’s people will come the throne of God and also the throne of Satan. Which throne we become depends on our willingness to forsake our own life that God and Christ might find Their rest in us.

Healing the dead sea of mankind.

When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. (Ezekiel 47:7)

Those who have entered the waters to swim in have become trees of life, growing from the roots of that greatest of all trees of life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh." (Ezekiel 47:8)

The "Sea" is the dead sea of mankind. It can never become fresh until the sons of God are ready to move among the nations with the water of life.

Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. (Ezekiel 47:9)

Today mankind is dead. Tomorrow, when the Lord returns with His trees of life, mankind will begin to awaken and finally live in the Presence of God.

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:2-4)

The above passage is a portrayal of the nations of saved people going to the glorified Christian Church in order to receive life, healing, and guidance.

Notice also:

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

"And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 40:5)

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)

It has not always been in the consciousness of the Christian churches that God is moving forward to the day when the whole earth will be filled with His Presence, His Glory, the knowledge of Him.

This awakening of the dead creation will come at the hands of the sons of God, when they return with the Lord and are glorified together with Him. They will be trees of life, bringing life to the dead sea of mankind.

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)

The Glory of God will be revealed through His saints.

On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:10)

The greatest of all revivals.

Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea.~ (Ezekiel 47:10)

There have been many great revivals throughout history. The massive harvest- rain revival is yet to come and will prepare the Church and the world for the return of the Lord Jesus and the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

The two thousand years since the Day of Pentecost have been for the purpose of calling out from the nations of the earth the members of the Church, the Body of Christ. We notice that the emphasis in the Great Commission is not on saving the nations but on training disciples.

We see in the Book of Acts that the emphasis was not on the conversion of each country but on the bringing of the Word of Life to those whom God had ordained to life, that is His elect, both Jews and Gentiles.

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9)

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)

So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. (Romans 11:5)

The emphasis during the Church Age has been on calling out the members of the Church from the nations of the earth.

When the Lord returns with His saints it will be time to bring entire nations into the Kingdom of God.

No revival of all history could ever compare with that which will take place when the Lord Jesus Christ returns with His saints.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. (Isaiah 60:1-4)

Notice in the above passage that the nations will not come to God or Jesus, but to God and Jesus in the saints. "All assemble and come to you." The people that God will save in that day will be the inheritance of Jesus Christ and His coheirs.

The coming of the Lord will result in the destruction of the wicked from the earth, but also in the awakening to the Life of God of multitudes of peoples.

Today the building of the Church, the eternal dwelling place of God. Tomorrow the bringing of the nations to the dwelling place of God that they may receive eternal life.

The swamps and marshes.

But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. (Ezekiel 47:11)

Many Christian churches of our day are "swamps and marshes." All kinds of confusion, self-seeking, and bitterness characterize some of the Christian congregations. They are spiritually dead, not bearing the fruit of the Spirit, not joyfully practicing righteous, holy behavior and worshiping God fervently.

That which today is not bearing the fruit God desires will be desolate in the Day of the Lord. Either we bear the fruit of Christ’s image in our personality, or we shall be cut from the Vine, from Christ, and destroyed in the fires of Divine judgment.

If we sow to the Spirit of God today we shall reap eternal life in the ages to come. If we sow to our flesh today, from our flesh we shall reap corruption and destruction in the ages to come.

Israel always has murdered the prophets.

A substantial part of the Bible is devoted to the sins of Israel. The same is true of the New Testament and the sins of the churches.

For I am afraid when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. (II Corinthians 12:20,21)

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. (I John 3:9)

For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 1:4)

You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." But you do not realize you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Revelation 3:17)

"Babylon" refers to organized, man-directed religion, particularly the Christian religion. In the last days there will be a great world religion, perhaps dominated by the Christian religion. This massive organization will be located at the site of ancient Babylon, in Iraq. Babylon will govern the earth along with Antichrist, just as in past history Europe was governed by the Pope and the various monarchs.

And, as took place in Europe, the secular authority, not wanting to share power, will rise up against the religious behemoth.

The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. (Revelation 17:16)

There is no greater enemy of Christ than organized, man-directed religion, especially the religion of Christianity. The leaders of the Christian religion have tortured and murdered the true saints of God, and have led them astray with polluted doctrine.

Satan always is active in Judaism and Christianity because these two religions have proceeded from a Divine revelation. True Judaism and true Christianity are not religions, they are Divine interventions in the affairs of people. But self-seeking, self-willed people become involved and soon there arises some form of organization directed by the mind and ambitions of people who know all about religion but have never met the God who at different times has spoken directly to people.

A religious organization comes into being with the best of intentions—to promote the Gospel of Christ. Soon, however, Satan enters and the organization becomes a hold of unclean spirits, of personal ambition. It becomes swamps and marshes and shall be "left for salt." Such shall not partake of the life that is going to come forth at the hands of those who have passed through the four great areas of redemption.

God’s attitude toward the great prostitute, she who would take the things of Christ and buy the favor of the world with them, is revealed as follows:

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, For true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants." (Revelation 19:1,2)

Today the voice of the Lamb and His Bride can be heard in the various Christian organizations. But before the Lord returns, the true remnant of saints will be driven from these man-directed swamps and marshes.

The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. (Revelation 18:23)

Today the several Christian organizations contain numerous disciples, true saints of the Lord. Much of Kingdom worth is being accomplished. But there always is the danger that the most devout denomination or system will eventually be corrupted by those who, as was true of Diotrophes, are seeking their own advantage rather than that which will benefit the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:21)

The day may come when we are to flee from Babylon. I doubt that time is here at the present. Meanwhile we are to remain where the Lord places us and serve God to the best of our ability.

The gates of the city.

The gates of the city will be named after the tribes of Israel. The three gates on the north side will be the gate of Reuben, the gate of Judah and the gate of Levi. On the east side, which is 4,500 cubits long, will be three gates: the gate of Joseph, the gate of Benjamin and the gate of Dan. On the south side, which measures 4,500 cubits, will be three gates: the gate of Simeon, the gate of Issachar and the gate of Zebulun. On the west side, which is 4,500 cubits long, will be three gates: the gate of Gad, the gate of Asher and the gate of Naphtali. (Ezekiel 48:31-34)

It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Revelation 21:12)

Notice that there is a "gate of Dan."

In the list of the tribes found in the seventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, Dan is omitted. Some scholars have presented the opinion that Dan is omitted because of previous prophecies suggesting that the Antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan.

From my point of view, if Dan were to be removed from Israel because of what to my mind are fanciful interpretations of the prophecies in Genesis, Jeremiah, and Amos, Dan would not be listed as one of the gates of the eternal Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb.

My personal opinion, to this point, is that since the name "Dan" refers to judgment, it is omitted in Revelation, Chapter Seven. The names of the tribes presented here are symbolic, and they already have been judged to be servants of God. I do not believe if these were literal tribes of physical Israel, the tribe of Dan would be omitted.

Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God. (Revelation 7:3)

The gates of the new Jerusalem are each made of a single pearl. A pearl is formed within us as we patiently respond in Christ to numerous irritations. The pearl in us has been fashioned that we might be a gate to God for people who desire to come to God.

We dislike—sometimes intensely—the numerous pains, dreads, torments, and problems with which we are afflicted. But if we respond correctly to these tribulations, not becoming bitter against the tools God uses, Christ is formed in us. When people come to us looking for God, they are presented with Christ and not with our old corrupt nature.

The gates are always open. There is an angel at each gate to insure that no sinful person will ever enter the new Jerusalem.

Each Christian is to serve as a gate to the Presence of God. That gate always is to be open. The showbread always is to be on the Table, so to speak. The Lampstand always is to be full of oil and burning brightly.

This is not always true of us Christians. Sometimes when God brings an individual to us to receive the Presence of God we are not ready. We are too distracted or tired. It is not convenient for us. We have not prayed or read our Bible and are filled with the things of the world. We are too busy and full of our selfish ambitions to hear the gentle whisper of the Spirit of God.

Every Christian is to pray every day that he or she may be of use in the Kingdom of God. It may be years before the Lord uses us, but He wants us ready. Or, He may use us every day. It does not matter. Our gate is to be open.

On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. (Revelation 21:25)

The city does not follow the cycle of day and night. God and the Lamb are the Light of the city and there is no darkness in them. So it is to be with us. God wants us to be so filled with Himself and the Lamb that there is no darkness in us. We always are ready to bring people into the Presence of God.

Notice how Ananias had kept himself in the place where he could instantly hear from God.

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered. (Acts 9:10)

Ananias was prepared to hear and obey God. He was not too busy. So it must always be true of us that we are in the place where we can hear God. Whether we are at work, at a party, on a vacation, with a group of people in some activity, we are to be in tune with the Holy Spirit so we can serve as a gateway to God.

As we stated previously in this essay, we need to keep reminding the Lord that there are people who come to us and who need bread. We need more of the Holy Spirit. We need to be so filled with the Spirit at all times that there will be plenty of bread for all whom the Lord sends our way.

The Lord is there.

The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on will be: The Lord is there. (Ezekiel 48:35)

What can we say about the new Jerusalem, the holy city, the glorified Church? The most important statement we can make is: "The Lord is there."

All of our life, as a member of God’s elect, we are being fashioned with the goal in mind that it can be said of us: "The Lord is there."

Can it be said of you and me, "The Lord is there"? Probably not totally, but at least in part.

It can always be said of the Lord Jesus Christ, "The Lord is there."

When we pass through the four levels of the River of Life, have been conformed to the image of Christ, are dwelling for eternity in untroubled rest in the very center of God’s Person and will. Then it will be true of us that the Lord is there.

Then it can be stated that the Lord is our Righteousness. It is not merely that we are righteous by identification with Him, or by faith in Him. Rather it is true that we have become an inseparable, eternally integral part of Him who alone is righteous in the sight of God.

We are not regarded as righteous only because we are part of Him, we are righteous because His Life permeates our thinking, our speaking, our acting, our appearance. Our adamic personality has been crucified together with Him. The life we now live comes from Him who has been created in us and is dwelling in us.

Are we living? No, and yes. We remain the unique personality we always have been. We never lose our uniqueness, only our individuality as a person apart from Christ. The same is true of the Lord Jesus. He never loses His uniqueness as a Person. Yet He can never be an individual apart from His Father or apart from us whom He has chosen to be part of His Body.

"The Lord is there"! Here is the supreme end of all of our aspirations. We have been called, chosen, and then proven faithful that Christ may receive us as an integral part of His Person. This is our role for eternity as a member of the royal priesthood.

If we are wise we will place developing our calling to the throne of God as the highest priority of our life, and fasten our attention on the Holy Spirit as He brings us into oneness with the Father and the Son. It is likely that never again throughout the endless ages that lie before us will there be an opportunity to become such an integral part of the Godhead that it can be said of us, "The Lord is there."

The Lamb has never before been married. It may be true that He never again will be married. Ours truly is an awesome segment of the tapestry of eternity. How foolish we would be to let ourselves be so occupied with the passing elements of the present physical world we forget that God is inviting us to be a part of His image and Person.

Let us continue to cooperate with the Holy Spirit until it can be said of us to the fullest extent: "The Lord is there."

Conclusion

In the beginning God created man in His image. Adam was in the image of God in a superficial manner. Adam had an outward form resembling God. Adam definitely was superior to the animals in intelligence. Also, he was able to have fellowship with God, which is not true of animals.

In actuality, however, the first man to appear on the earth fully in the image of God was the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is like God in outer form and inward nature.

In the beginning Christ came forth from God, being known as the Word. Through Him God created all creatures and things including the highest dignitaries of Heaven.

Christ moved among those He had created, but it was as Adam among the animals. There could be no true fellowship for Him for there was no other of His kind.

It appears that when the revolution began in Heaven, Christ demonstrated His love for righteousness and His hatred of wickedness. Because of this, apparently, God put a superior anointing on Him. Then God chose Him as His Heir, saying, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever."

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:2)

After testing the obedience of His Firstborn in the fires of earth, God made Him Lord and Christ—the Anointed One.

It now is God’s intention to bring forth an entire family of brothers for His Firstborn. The brothers are to be in Christ’s very image, all of them worshiping and serving the Father in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience.

This is the Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb.

In addition to His Church, His royal priesthood, God is going to save multitudes of people born on the earth. God will use the royal priesthood to bring forth the image of Christ in these saved peoples until the image of Christ fills the whole earth.

This is what God means by "fruit." The fruit that is to be borne on the branches proceeding from the Vine, from Christ, is the image of Christ formed in us and then in those whom we influence.

"Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the face of the earth with fruit."

The important thing is the image of Christ. It is for the purpose of bearing this image that the elect have been predestined.

Now the angels have been assigned as ministering spirits whom God will use to assist His sons whom He is bringing forth.

First came the Lord Jesus Christ, the Firstborn of the new creation. After Christ will come His firstfruits—those who will be the first to bear His image.

After the firstfruits will emerge the remainder of the Church.

Finally, the saved nations of the earth will reflect the Glory of Christ.

It has pleased God to sum up all that is in the universe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the present hour the Spirit of God is calling out from the various Christian assemblings those who are willing to follow the Spirit to the very fullest extent. They will hold nothing back from the Lord.

The Lord Jesus through the Spirit is bringing each of His young brothers through circumstances designed to underscore those aspects of their personalities not as yet in the image of Christ. This is a painful procedure at times, but there are those who are willing to submit to Christ until He is satisfied with His handiwork.

When the Lord returns He will bring with Him those whom He deems qualified to reveal His image among mankind. They will govern the nations by the power of God.

So when God determined to make man in His image He had a much more comprehensive plan in His mind than was immediately apparent. Today we have some insight, but the wisdom of God is still marching out ahead of us. The obedient are following God, pressing forward toward rest in His perfect will.

We do not have to strain to bear the image of God. Rather we are to abide in the Vine, in Christ. If we do this the fruit will be borne in its time.

To abide in Christ we must pray each day, meditate in the Scriptures if they are available, gather together with fervent disciples on a regular basis (if we can find any fervent disciples), and seek the Lord for a place of service in His Kingdom.

If we are utterly diligent with the talent, the Kingdom wealth, the Lord assigns to us, we will bring forth the image of Christ in ourselves and in other people. If we are not diligent, we will be cut off from the Vine. Our talent will be removed from us and given to another.

The Christian religion, as we have known it, is undergoing change. Because the tares of wickedness are coming to maturity, the demands on the Lord’s servants will increase proportionately. What served up to this time is no longer adequate. The music will become more vigorous and warlike. The preaching will be more scriptural and often prophetic.

Set the Lord before you, as did King David. Keep looking to Jesus. Avoid troubling your mind with the spiritual darkness. Bring every decision, every thought, every word of your mouth, into the Presence of Christ. Do nothing without Christ. Count the world as vain and useless and Christ as everything.

Be quick to confess and forsake your sins. Resist all bitterness, unforgiveness, fear, and dread. Stand against all such in the name of Jesus. God does not want you to be bowed down in the mud of the world. If you will wait on the Lord He will lift you above your circumstances and you will be able to skip with Jesus on the mountains of spices.

These are days of unparalleled opportunity and unparalleled danger. The opportunity is to ascend to the Throne of Christ. The danger is that of deception, the spirit of the world, the love of money, sexual passion, murderous rage, unrestrained ambition.

Now is the time for you and me to be conformed to the very image of Christ, on the inside now, and on the outside when He appears with His holy angels. Do not waste your time on this world. It is passing away.

All that has gone before us can be considered as base camps. Those pioneers have brought us to where we are today. The peak is in sight. Who is willing to climb to the summit?

Are you?